Winchburgh man aims to capture historic eclipse

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An amateur astronomer from Winchburgh aims to bring home 360-degree footage of the coast-to-coast Great American Eclipse .

The Scotsman newspaper reports that Steven Gray, a former printer, is in Carbondale, Illinois – the best place to film the August 21 eclipse’s two minutes and 40 seconds of darkness “totality” – as part of a six-week fully funded 2017 Winston Churchill Memorial Travelling Fellowship.

During the trip he will talk to US astronomers and visit leading planetariums.

The total solar eclipse, the first in almost 100 years, will see the moon pass in front of the sun, casting a shadow on the Earth’s surface beginning near Lincoln City, Oregon, and ending near Charleston, South Carolina.

The path of this shadow, also known as the “path of totality” will plunge those regions into near darkness.

Steven quit his printing job to set up Cosmos Planetarium, a six-metre 360-degree multimedia mobile planetarium, with his business partner James Green in 2014.

They take their mobile planetarium across Scotland giving virtual tours of the universe and also showing 360-degree full-dome movies on subjects such as the last moon walk and the hunt for dark matter which people can enjoy through virtual reality headsets.

He said: “In March 2015 we took eclipse glasses in for the children at Kirkliston Primary School to see a partial solar eclipse.

“The reaction of the kids was fantastic: they were squealing with delight.

“I told the interview panel for the Churchill Fellowship about it and how I’d been thinking of how I could replicate that magic for everyone.

“To be just someone with a telescope and be here doing this is incredible.”

Professor John Brown, Astronomer Royal for Scotland, said: “I’ll be crossing my fingers for Steven and hope it’s clear along the path for filming so he can bring the glory and excitement of a total eclipse home to Scotland and give everyone hands on experience from someone who was actually there.”