21 March – 21 June 2016 in Florence, Rome, Naples, Palermo, Padua

The eclipse expedition.

Naftel 1870 eclipse painting - Le Conte

L’eclisse di Sole del 1870 osservata a Jerez, Acquerello di Paul Jacob Naftel ufficiale della spedizione britannica. Dalla collezione della Royal Astronomical Society

From the accounts received from the astronomers who went abroad to see the eclipse of Dec. 22 it appears that the different parties of observers were not very fortunate. From the Moorish Castle at Gibraltar nothing was seen of the eclipse when total. At Estepona Mr. Buckingham reports there was heavy rain. Mr. Richard Abbott, who stayed at Gibraltar, was able to observe the total phase for about two seconds ; and others there appear to have made somewhat fuller observations. At Cadiz Lord Lindsay succeeded in taking several excellent photographs. The American party at Xeres saw the totality for about a minute. At Seville it began to rain at 12.10 p.m., and the sun was lost to sight until the conclusion of the eclipse, which occurred at 1.30 pm. The eclipse was total for seventy seconds, and the effect was very striking, the whole sky becoming of a lurid purple and very dark. The birds were hushed and frightened, and the charcoal burners’ fires in the mountains, some five leagues distant, were plainly visible.
A report has been received from that portion of the eclipse expedition which went to Oran. When the astronomers reached there they found that M. Janssen, so distinguished by his spectroscopic observations of the red flames in 1868 in India, had arrived at Oran, having escaped from Paris with his instruments in a balloon. He had fixed his station about seven miles from the town of Oran. As at this distance the ship would be inconvenient for the English observers, a station was chosen near the railway station, about two miles and a half from the port. The earlier stages of the eclipse were seen and a photograph was taken, but ten minutes before totality a dense bank of clouds came over the sun, which extinguished all hope and rendered useless the laborious preparations of many weeks.

The illustrated London news, 1871, vol. 58, n. 1631

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