Great Outdoors Monday, August 7th

Where to watch the solar eclipse in Herefordshire

Great Outdoors Monday, August 7th

Where to watch the solar eclipse in Herefordshire

As celestial events go, a solar eclipse is up there with the International Space Station passing over your house on Christmas Eve (it's Saaaaantaaaa).

So with the moon due to partially block our view of the sun this coming Monday, August 21, we asked the stargazers from Herefordshire Astronomical Society where to be when the sky turns dark between 7.39pm and 8.20pm.

In truth, it won't be easy; the main event coincides with sunset. But with the next eclipse not due until August 2026, we're damn well going to try.

"You're going to want to get to a high point," said HAS chairman and observing secretary Mark Chamberlain.

"Ideally you want a totally clear western horizon, without trees. Somewhere in the Brecons, perhaps, but certainly somewhere with clear views of the horizon because the sun will be low".

With that in mind, here are 3 perfect places to be on Monday night if you want to catch a glimpse of the sun slipping behind the moon.

And if you don't want to burn your eyeballs by looking directly at the blazing sun (please don't do that), use a homemade pin hole camera or get yourself a pair of eclipse glasses.

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Swardon Quarry, near Mordiford

There's a picturesque picnic area between Mordiford and Dormington. Secluded, but not a secret. Park in the lay-by and walk up Backbury Hill. If you're thirsty, pop into the nearby Moon Inn. Seems fitting.

A guide postcode is HR1 4EJ but that'll take you to a nearby lane not the car park. For detailed directions tap here or view the map.

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May Hill, near Newent

The National Trust's May Hill, between Gloucester and Ross-on-Wye, is a wild, open landmark crowned with an instanty recognisable row of pine trees. And man, it's seriously stunning. Especially at sunset.

It's an invigorating walk to the top (wear walking boots), and you'll be drinking in a vista that includes Herefordshire, Wales and the Black Mountains, the Forest of Dean, the Severn Estuary and out towards the Cotswolds.

There's a car park at May Hill Common (GL18 1JS) and our favourite pub on the slopes is The Glasshouse Inn and Restuarant.

 
 

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Marcle Ridge, near Much Marcle

East of Hereford and not too far from Ledbury is Marcle Ridge, a high-point with impressive views over the Malvern Hills. There are plenty of walks to/from/around this place, so take your pick, but we like the circular walk featured on www.walkingbritain.co.uk.

Like they say it's an easy climb from Kynaston to Marcle Ridge, through fields and over a few stiles. 

If you're parking, head to Glowson Wood Road, HR8 2LX. For a post-eclipse pub head to the Walwyn Arms.  

 

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A solar eclipse happens when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun.

It's a complete coincidence that the width of the moon looks more-or-less the same as size as the sun but as a result, if the alignment of all three bodies - Earth, moon, and sun - is just right, the moon will block the sun for a couple of minutes, turning our skies dark and the temperature notically cooler.

And seeing as you're trying to look directy at the sun, you've got to put safety first.

Here's are some eclipse viewing tips from Herefordshire Astronomical Society's Mark Chamberlain.

  • DON'T ever look at the Sun without proper eye protection
  • DON'T view the Sun through sunglasses of any type (single or multiple pairs) or filters made of black and white or colour photographic film, or any combination of photographic filters, crossed polarisers or gelatin filters, CDs, CD-ROMs, or smoked glass. These are NOT safe.
  • DO view the Sun ONLY through special filters made for safe solar viewing, e.g. aluminised mylar filters, or black polymer filters, identified as suitable for direct viewing of the Sun, bearing the CE mark AND a statement that it conforms to European Community Directive 89/686/EEC, or use welder's glass rated at no.14 or higher. Always read and follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully.
  • DO check filters thoroughly for any damage BEFORE use. DON'T use them if they are scuffed, scratched or there are pinholes in them
  • DON'T stare through the special filter for more than 3 minutes at a time. Intermittent use of the filter is the best way of viewing the Sun
  • If you use eclipse glasses DON'T ever use them to look at the Sun through any optical instrument, e.g. telescope, binoculars or camera. Such devices concentrate the Sun's harmful radiation and will cause severe eye damage or permanent blindness in a fraction of a second.
  • If you are not certain that a filter is approved and safe, or you have any other doubts, DON'T USE IT.

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