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Anorak | Sun Stroke

Sun Stroke

by | 9th, June 2004

‘IF you missed Venus’s transit across the sun yesterday, tough luck – you’ll have to hang around for another 243 years if you want to catch the repeat.

Ford Transit Gloria Mundi

Alternatively, you can pick up one of today’s papers and inspect what looks to all intents and purposes like an orange circle with a black dot on it.

Were it not for the fact that the astronomical phenomenon is reproduced on the front page of three of the four broadsheets, we might suspect that it was a particularly cunning fraud perpetrated by a six-year-old girl with a set of felt tip pens.

‘It’s gorgeous, it’s gorgeous,’ shouted out Dr Allan Chapman, professor of the history of science at Oxford University and clearly a man who should get out a bit more.

So what did the transit – to give the phenomenon its proper title – look like.

The Guardian’s Simon Hoggart was standing next to Dr Chapman and 91 of the world’s leading astronomers on top of a hill in Lancashire and describes what he saw.

At first, it was ‘a tiny black crescent, as if a mouse had begun nibbling on a Gouda cheese’.

‘Looking directly through the bigger telescopes, their lenses covered with glass so dark you couldn’t see anything except the sun, we could look at an even finer sight,’ he said, ‘as if a black bug was crawling very slowly across a lemon yellow Frisbee.’

Which of course provides a third option if you can’t be bothered to buy one of today’s paper and aren’t confident that you’ll still be around in 2247.

And where better to watch a black bug walk over your brand new lemon yellow Frisbee than on the beach enjoying this spell of sunshine.

The transit may happen only once a lifetime, but for the Telegraph a sunny day in June is even more rare – and it gives pride of pictorial place to a girl sheltering under an umbrella on the beach at Hastings.

(Incidentally, isn’t it remarkable that no men ever seem to go to the beach in Britain – indeed, in Fleet Street the sand is populated exclusively by bikini-clad stunnas.)

But the unidentified girl on Hastings beach is a role model for all of us – staying in the shade is part of the Department of Health’s expert advice on keeping cool.

It also includes staying indoors, wearing loose clothing and taking cool baths or showers.

For those who do wish to lie out in the sun, the advice is clear – wear a hat, cover all exposed parts of your body with sun cream and try to avoid being trampled by groups of overexcited astronomers.’



Posted: 9th, June 2004 | In: Broadsheets Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink