From the BAA Archives

On 2023 Jun 30, there is the 50th anniversary of a total solar eclipse which has become dubbed as the ‘Monte Umbe eclipse’ by many BAA members. Monte Umbe was the name of a ship chartered to view the eclipse off the west coast of northern Africa. In late 2021, Peter Macdonald sent me a picture of participants on board, which I featured in a piece asking for readers to name the people in the photograph. I had several replies to this. For example, Margaret Fisher sent me a lot of information about the cruise and photocopies of some of her pictures.

Keith Brackenborough has sent much interesting material, including paperwork from the eclipse trip which I plan to scan before returning to Keith. Keith has also gifted to the Archives a box (below) of 175 35mm colour slides.


The wooden box of numerous colour slides, open on a table


There are far too many to feature, but I show six (below). These are: Keith interviewing Patrick Moore, Henry Hatfield and his equipment (mentioned last Journal), Arthur Davis (a friend of mine, sadly now departed), a group picture, and two of the eclipse itself. Keith has labelled and described each slide and they are a valuable record of the trip.


Six colour slides, as described in the text


There is also a programme for the whole cruise, which details the activities of every day along with astronomical information. On Friday Jul 6, for example, there was a fancy dress parade. I wonder who ‘Tarzan and Jane’ were? Patrick Moore sang(?) a piece he wrote called ‘Nouadhibou’ – an optional excursion I believe. His note to this says ‘I am sorry the music is not here. I will send it in the excessively unlikely event of anyone wanting it!’


The programme for the cruise, on two A4-sized pieces of paper (text not legible)


I next feature one more of the items Keith sent. There has been some speculation that Cicely Botley (discussed in the last Journal; see 133(2), pp.89–101) may have been on the trip. Keith has sent the passenger list and one page of it is shown here. Cicely does not appear on the list. This must be a clinching argument.


The passenger list, with columns of names (in alphabetical order) and their cabin numbers alongside. This part of the list runs A to C, and Botley's name is not present

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