DCSIMG

The day the UK went dark

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editorial image

On August 11, 1999 the UK stood still and looked up to the sky to witness a natural phenomenon.

In Mid Sussex the solar eclipse had people flocking to the Jack and Jill windmills car park on the South Downs.

The Middy run a eclipse souvenir edition with the headline - ‘Shadowlands - Mid Sussex falls under solar spell’.

People said the drop in light was ‘just like a dimmer switch’.

A solar eclipse, as seen from the Earth, occurs when the moon passes between the sun and Earth and the moon fully or partially blocks the Sun.

The paper wrote: “Burgess Hill started to fall quiet just after 11:08 with first noticeable signs of dusk and with the first chill in the air.

“Several hundred people gathered in Church Walk and Church Road and watched in fascination as a faintly eerie twilight emerged and it grew colder by the minute.”

Shops around Mid Sussex were quiet as shoppers and staff a like tried to get out and get a good view of the eclipse. How+ever, the paper reported that by 12.20pm all had resumed back to normal.

The Orchards Centre Manager, Mark Middleton, said at the time: “It was really strange. I was surprised it had so much impact on people, Those who were around were all huddled together in the two squares using the viewing cards. The retailers all came out as well and it became a little bit eerie. The centre came to a standstill.”

Those who managed to get on Devil’s Dyke said that the shadow turned the landscape into a negative with dull yellows becoming luminous golds.

Reporter Susan King said: “Some were lucky enough to have pitched near to amateur astronomer Richard Sansome from Southwater and his six-inch Newtonian reflector telescope.

“By 10.45am the craters of the moon’s surface were seen in jagged relief against the diminishing roundel of the sun.”

Adding: “We’re congratulating ourselves on being at the right place at the right time.”

Do you remember the solar eclipse? Where were you?

Let us know via emailing middy.news@sussexnewspapers.co.uk or sending a letter to 7-9 South Road office in Haywards Heath.

You can also tweet @Midsussex_times or leave a message on our Facebook page.

 

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