Friday, March 20, 2015

Quaker Alphabet Blog 2015 - E for Eclipse

Photograph of the solar eclipse taken by A S Eddington 29 May 1919
My Facebook feed this morning has been full of pictures of Ffriends watching, or trying to watch, the partial solar eclipse. Some found elaborate ways of not looking directly at the sun, some were frustrated by cloud cover and many remarked, as I did, on the strange quality of the fading light and the confused behaviour of birds.

Arthur Stanley Eddington 1882-1944
Thinking back to past eclipses I wondered whether Quakers had been interested in them and I found one particularly important example. In 1919 Arthur Stanley Eddington, born in Kendal in 1882, led an expedition to Principe, off the West coast of Africa in order to observe and photograph the eclipse. Eddington, a Cambridge professor,  hoped to find proof of Einstein's theory of relativity which the two men had discussed before the war. As a Quaker, Eddington was determined to show that science could be an international endeavour, free from war-time hatreds and prejudices and with this expedition he succeeded.

There is much more to say both about Eddington and about the expedition but for now I will refer you, dear reader, to an article by Matthew Stanley 'An Expedition to Heal the Wounds of War: the 1919 Eclipse Expedition and Eddington as Quaker Adventurer' which can be downloaded from and leave you with your own thoughts about eclipses.

No comments: