Thanks to the ladies who write the very helpful blog Florence for Free, I heard about an event to be held at the Basilica Santa Maria Novella on the morning of 20 March. basilica-of-santa-maria-novella
Not only would there be the opportunity to view the solar eclipse in safety, but also it was the day of the vernal equinox, and we’d be able to see the sun strike the appropriate spot on the meridian line placed on the floor of the Basilica.
Keeping in mind that all of the calculations were done in the 1500s, without the aid of computers, what was accomplished by Egnazio Danti, cosmographer to the Grand Duke Cosimo I de Medici, allowed us in 2015 to see both of these events.
Two holes on the southern façade of the Basilica act as camere oscuri. You can read more about them for yourself on this site, which translates adequately using Google: gli-strumenti-astronomici-della-basilica-di-santa-maria-novella/
Every day, the sun’s rays shine through a hole in the rose window on the façade of the Basilica. You can spot this hole just below the red wing of the angel.
Today this gift from Danti allowed us to see an image of the solar eclipse projected onto the interior surface of the Basilica. (Cameras projected the images onto screens for the many viewers.)
Gradually, the image crept lower, until we could see it on a pillar of the Basilica.
From there it was a matter of waiting patiently for the sun’s image to make its way further down, until it touched the floor.
Its target was the specially placed meridian.
And finally at 12:22, the grand moment arrived. However, your reporter was bit late, not being able to battle through the scrum eager to capture this moment in time!
I was so gratified to have been in Florence at just the right time, and to have read the previously mentioned post on Florence for Free. I wonder how long it will be before a solar eclipse and vernal equinox coincide again?