I felt the eclipse might just be the most over-rated event since the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony. From memory of the last eclipse – in fact any eclipse, ever, it goes a little dark, the sun looks a little like the waning/waxing moon and it is a tiny fraction of the visual spectacle of a good sunset or even a half decent rainbow unless you have a telescope the size of Mons Meg. It is only it's rarity value that marks this event as anything other than humdrum.
From the cover of the Radio Times to encouragements to seek out special equipment to shade our peepers from the harmful rays of the watery winter sun, we were treated like imbeciles by the nanny state, and to be fair, we went out and played our part. I saw some terrifically dim stuff going on, perhaps the most bemusing was someone holding 2 sheets of A4 paper one slightly in front of the other.
I would probably have missed the whole thing had Mary not tempted me by saying she was going up Arthur's Seat to join the crowds of sightseers and end-of-the-world-is-nighers from a strictly unnecessary viewpoint. Being stupidly early in the morning I was not thinking straight and after a tiny and hurried breakfast decided to follow suit – the thought of missing the end-of-the-world too much to bear. It was quite nice to cycle up there and then walk up the hill and look at the gawpers. (The *eclipsemongers as Ben M called them.) Indeed to become one of the idiot masses ruining their eyes staring at the sun.
While it was just apparent there was an eclipse going on, you would only really know by looking directly at the sun. The amount of ambient light dimmed but a small fraction – think about the difference between the sun just above the horizon and just below, and well, it wasn't even that significant. We've had considerably darker days in the last 2 weeks. While it was all kicking off (and that term implies far more excitement than was actually available,) there was quite a bit of cloud cover which acted as a perfect filter to get some half decent photos without blinding yourself.
All in all I'd give the visual spectacle a 4 or maybe 5 out of 10, but the cycle and walk a 7 or 8. It certainly didn't merit either the bottle of champagne I saw being quaffed (some people need no excuse) or a full size digital camera filming, being left on record for the entire event. Now there's a very dull youTube video unless the whole thing is compressed into 15secs. We cycled home and I had a second breakfast of cold pizza, left over from book group the other night (9 out of 10, although I shouldn't really be blowing my own recipe-trumpet.). So in conclusion the eclipse was mildly captivating but not a patch on leftover cold pizza.
This was by far and away the best photo I saw today - Hilary Ritchie posted this on fb, though she didn't say how she took it (what with both hands holding the colander!) Trust she didn't strain her eyes.