I have to confess that I wasn't expecting much from this eclipse! Sure, it's always nice to see one, but it was only 22% coverage by diameter (12% by area) over London, we are at a solar minimum (so no sunspots were visible) and the weather forecast was looking uncertain. So would any one even turn up to the observatory to look? Would we get to see anything at all?

Any doubts I might have had, had totally disappeared by 9am! The Sun was shining, people were queuing up outside, and our volunteer helpers from the Flamsteed Astronomy Society were working flat out to set up all the telescopes. There was a fantastic buzz about the place - and the gates had not even opened yet!

Solar telescopes

From the moment the gates opened, the crowds were in, eager to know more about why eclipses occur, how frequently, how long do they last? And astronomers, both from the Flamsteed Astronomical Society and the Royal Observatory itself, were equally keen to answer all the questions.

SolarScope telescope

And then the Moon began to hide the Sun.

Only a tiny amount at first, but enough for the children gathered to celebrate that they had all been the first to see the eclipse start! There is something magical about watching the Moon glide across the face of the Sun - you are seeing the Moon orbiting the Earth orbiting the Sun!

It may only be a small piece of the Sun hidden from view but it's remarkable that it even happens at all. It was so wonderful to see the Sun, our nearest star, with a piece strangely missing that I had totally forgot about the lack of sunspots!

SolarScope telescope

As the eclipse progressed, visitors to the Royal Observatory from all over the world, of all cultures and of all ages could be seen with smiling faces full of excitement and wonder.

It is always a thrill to see an eclipse, solar or lunar. So when is the next one? Well, we don't have to wait long - there is a lunar eclipse in just 2 weeks time. And from the UK, the Moon will be rising in mid eclipse - perfect for some unique photography.