On Friday 20th March we took part in a series of outreach events associated with the solar eclipse and the BBC's Stargazing live programme. In the morning we hosted public viewing of the solar eclipse, which reached a maximum solar coverage at 09.30 and lasted about 2 hours. In the evening, we provided public observing with telescopes in partnership with the Irish Astronomical Association. We also took part in the Stargazing Live programme on BBC2, by taking spectra of the supernovae found through the citizen science search. We answered many questions on the Stargazing Live twitter feed about supernovae and exploding stars.
At 08.35 the cloudy skies cleared over Belfast, with almost perfect timing, to allow the large crowd gathered in the grounds of Queen's to get excellent views of the solar eclipse. There were over 600 people who turned up to view the eclipse over the one and a half hour period, along with the local media (Irish News and Barra Best from the BBC.
We distributed over 350 pairs of special eclipse glasses and some spectacular images were provided by telescopes adapted with special solar filters that were set up by the Irish Astronomical Association.
In the evening the Astrophysics Research Centre, together with the Irish Astronomical Association, set up telescopes to show the Jupiter. Although cloudy at the start, the skies cleared around 20:30, providing the public great views of the largest planet in our solar system. The video below shows a time lapse of the eclipse.