AS the Summer Solstice draws near so does the time for the rare midsummer phenomenon of the Double Sunset which will once again be visible in good weather from several locations in North Staffordshire and West Derbyshire.
The occurrence is most commonly associated with and was traditionally observed, from at least 1686, from St Edward's churchyard in Leek on the Summer Solstice, but the view from that location is now entirely obscured by trees.
Nevertheless, the event remains visible from a series of other observation points and Double Sunset expert Jeff Kent is offering the public guided viewings of the occurrences that can be seen from two of these locations.
The first of the Double Sunsets is the Chrome Hill event, observed from Glutton Bridge, on the B5053, just north of Longnor in the upper Dove valley.
This occurrence was discovered by Jeff when researching his book, The Mysterious Double Sunset, and is a 20 minute showcase, with the whole of the sun reappearing from the steep northeastern slope of the hill after setting on its summit, followed by a second sunset in the valley below.
In previous years, Jeff also took spectators to the private drive to Pickwood Hall and Pickwood Cottage, which he considered to be the best vantage point for observing the traditional Double Sunset within Leek.
However, problems with increasingly tree-restricted views and access permission have led him this year to change the second Double Sunset location to Lowe Hill on the outskirts of the town.
The vantage point is just southwest of the bridge over Ashbourne Road (the A523), but spectators are advised to park on nearby Mount Road because of restricted access.
In the atmospheric event visible from Lowe Hill, the sun entirely sets on the summit of The Cloud before partially reappearing off its steep northern scarp slope and setting for a second time at the base of the hill a few minutes later.
These rare events are the result of the interplay between the setting sun and the shape of the landscape and are viewed from fixed spots, which means that the observers do not need to move about.
Jeff has led groups of interested spectators in quests to see spectacular Double Sunsets since 2001, with considerable success.
This year, he is offering the public the opportunity to see both the above occurrences on the same evening, by joining him at Glutton Bridge and then a short while afterwards in Leek.
Consequently, Jeff is inviting interested people to meet him on Saturday, June 21, at the phone box in Glutton Bridge at 8.15pm prompt, to see the Chrome Hill event, and at Lowe Hill, in Leek, at 9.15pm prompt, to observe the occurrence on The Cloud.
If possible, spectators should bring with them solar filters, or at least sunglasses.
Nevertheless, Jeff will have some filters with him, which will be distributed among the crowd if need be, but observers are advised against looking directly at the sun with the naked eye because it may well be intensely bright and therefore dangerous.
Jeff will, as usual, be giving a detailed talk on the phenomenon before the events occur, will guide the observers through them and will be happy to answer any connected questions.
The recommended donation to Jeff for each guided viewing is £2 per adult, or £3 for both events, but is free for children.
Also, on the night, Jeff will have on sale signed copies of his new book, Staffordshire's 1,000-Foot Peaks, which was recently featured on TV.
Even in the event of adverse weather conditions, Jeff will still be present at both locations, will give his scheduled talks and will offer advice for spectators to observe the occurrences on following nights and beyond.
For further information, Jeff can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01782 791673, as well as on 0775 1964 816 on the evening itself.