27 Jul 2009 16:03:00.000
Truly breathtaking — fabulous — spectacular. These were just some of the words used by students and members of staff who got an exclusive view of the longest solar eclipse of the century from an English university.
Bad weather and thick cloud obscuring the skies over The University of Nottingham Ningbo, China cleared just in time for them to see one of the world’s greatest astronomical events — giving students at an English university the unique opportunity to watch an eclipse in China.
Among the 30 million people across China watching as the skies grew dark was Brady Haran, the University’s film maker in residence. He captured this remarkable footage — with the stunning Centre for Sustainable Energy Technologies building (CSET) for a backdrop.
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Brady said: “Many locals came out to join us and were delighted to use our special filters and watch through my camera, which provided the best view until totality hit!
“I must say I have truly never seen anything like it. We all know what an eclipse looks like, but nothing prepares you for seeing the real thing just floating in the sky above you. Along with the sudden drop in temperature and the shrieks of amazement and that diamond ring at the end it must be the single most beautiful thing I have seen!
“Three hours later lightning storms hit Ningbo — we were very, very lucky!”
For astronomers it was a chance for a prolonged view of the sun's corona, a white ring 600,000 miles (one million kilometres) from the sun's surface. The previous total eclipse, in August 2008, was two minutes and 27 seconds. This one lasted six minutes and 39 seconds at its maximum geographical point.
Dr Amanda Bauer, from the School of Physics and Astronomy, who also travelled to China to see the eclipse said: “A total solar eclipse is the most spectacular astronomical event you can see with the naked eye. After travelling all the way from Nottingham to Ningbo, it looked like we might be thwarted by the weather. But the clouds cleared in time, and I was stunned by how spectacular it was. I'd seen pictures and video before, but I was not prepared for how big it looked and how dark and cool it became. For four minutes it felt like we were on a different planet.”
The total eclipse was seen in India, Nepal, Burma, Bangladesh and Bhutan before hitting China. Thought to be the most viewed eclipse in human history this eclipse will not be surpassed in duration until 13 June 2132.
The footage will be seen in a number of films for both sixtysymbols.com and test-tube.org.uk
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Notes to editors
: The University of Nottingham is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 100 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and Times Higher (THE) World University Rankings.
More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to RAE 2008, with almost 60 per cent of all research defined as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Research Fortnight analysis of RAE 2008 ranks the University 7th in the UK by research power. In 27 subject areas, the University features in the UK Top Ten, with 14 of those in the Top Five.
The University provides innovative and top quality teaching, undertakes world-changing research, and attracts talented staff and students from 150 nations. Described by The Times as Britain's “only truly global university”, it has invested continuously in award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. Twice since 2003 its research and teaching academics have won Nobel Prizes. The University has won the Queen's Award for Enterprise in both 2006 (International Trade) and 2007 (Innovation — School of Pharmacy), and was named ‘Entrepreneurial University of the Year’ at the Times Higher Education Awards 2008.
Nottingham was designated as a Science City in 2005 in recognition of its rich scientific heritage, industrial base and role as a leading research centre. Nottingham has since embarked on a wide range of business, property, knowledge transfer and educational initiatives (www.science-city.co.uk) in order to build on its growing reputation as an international centre of scientific excellence. The University of Nottingham is a partner in Nottingham: the Science City.
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