HUNDREDS of hopeful stargazers who gathered in Portsmouth were unsuccessful in their bid to witness the solar eclipse.
Crowds gathered early on Friday morning for an event in the Guildhall Square hosted by the University of Portsmouth’s Institute for Cosmology and Gravitation (ICG) in hope of viewing the partial eclipse safely through solar telescopes and special glasses, but most took to watching big screen coverage from elsewhere in the country as heavy cloud hung over the area.
However, the murky sky was not enough to dampen people’s spirits, and there was a buzz in anticipation of possibly catching a glimpse of the eclipse - which began at 8.30am and lasted for around 90 minutes.
Karen Davis-Duncan, 51, from Hilsea, said: ‘We were slightly disappointed, but it was nice to be here, at least we tried. I kept hoping there would be a clearer sky, but there wasn’t.
‘It was good to see it on the big screen, because you sort of felt you were there, as close as we could be.’
Her daughter, 25-year-old Vicky Davis, added: ‘It was a good atmosphere. It was encouraging to see everyone still came out, even though they could see that we wouldn’t get a clear view.’
Liz Parry, 68, from Portsmouth, said everyone in the Guildhall Square was being very British with their patience for the weather.
‘It was really nice to be here,’ she said. ‘We are so British - we don’t mind if we can see the eclipse or not.
‘The crowds were fantastic - it was super to see everybody here.’
Dr Jen Gupta, outreach officer for the ICG, said the team were slightly disappointed at not being able to see the eclipse after all the preparation.
She said: ‘It’s what you expect from the British weather, you plan for not being able to see something and it’s a bonus if you can.
‘But we got to see totality on the big screen from Stargazing Live, and that was really spectacular.
‘We’ve been overwhelmed by how many people were sitting on the steps of the Guildhall.
‘Everyone’s been really engaged, and we’ve been talking to lots of people about the kind of stuff that we do at Portsmouth, and they’ve been watching the eclipse on the big screen.’
Dr Edd Edmondson, data technician for the ICG, said the team went to the Guildhall armed with several telescopes, including a specialist solar telescope.
Special filters were added to the telescopes to reduce the amount of light coming in, making it safe to view the sun.
‘We had quite a good range of equipment available, but unfortunately not much use for it today,’ Dr Edmondson said.
‘Obviously we’d have loved to have seen the eclipse, but it’s been great to see so many people coming out and showing lots of interest in what’s been going on.’
Dr Gupta added: ‘2026 is the next good eclipse, it’s about 93 per cent coverage in Portsmouth, so we’ll start planning for that.’
YouTube footage above filmed by Dr Edmondson