Standing on the deeply green, rain-soaked lawns looking up, I desperately hope to get a glimpse of the sun. I know where it should be…

From the earliest times the sun has been a source of awe, setting our days and nights, moods and hopes. It also provides us with vitamin D which helps us to absorb and retain the calcium and phosphorus critical for our bodies and wellbeing. Equally, it may help reduce cancer cell growth, help control infections and reduce inflammation.

Many of the body’s organs and tissues have receptors for vitamin D so it is perhaps vital in more ways than we know. Thus, at every opportunity in these northern climes, it is good on every front to go outside. This usually means we are also doing something: walking or playing tennis, running, gardening or just chatting with friends, all things that are good for both the body and the soul.

Being outside in the direct sun improves our mood, lowers blood pressure and improves heart health – though obviously with all the concomitant advice for sun screen when it is very hot.

Culturally, there are two almost equally important celestial bodies, the sun and the moon. They even define two of our days: lundi or Monday references the moon) whilst Sunday – sonntag references the sun.

From time to time many people living on this beautiful planet witness something extraordinary that has nothing to do with the seemingly endless rain: a solar eclipse. For a short time, the sun genuinely seems to disappear into an almost unnatural dark as the moon passes in front of it, completely obscuring it

In almost all cultures, an eclipse is seen as a forbidding omen as if the sun and the moon are being devoured by some evil being. Records testify that in ancient Egypt, the King, who represented the Sun, went so far as to go around the city to reassure people.

Eclipses, however, are also a valuable resource for historians as they can help date ancient calendars. Researchers from Cambridge developed a new eclipse calendar reference taking into account the variations of the Earth’s rotation over time. The only annular eclipse visible from Canaan between 1500 and 1050 BC was on the afternoon of 30 October 1207 BC. If this is accepted, it would not only be the oldest recorded solar eclipse but it also helps date the reigns of Ramesses the Great and his son Merenptah to within a year.

Astronomy has always been highly regarded and its records and significance are recorded both in paintings and writing. An unfinished tomb for Senenmut, (Hatshesput’s architect), was quarried and carved out under her temple at Deir el Bahri. It is 90m long and gives access to three successive chambers with extraordinary and beautiful astrological ceilings. Painted around 1460 BC, it includes celestial bodies such as Sirius, Orion, and four planets Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn.

Two thousand years later the Egyptian astronomer Ibn Yunus (950-1009AD), regarded as one of the greatest observational astronomers of his time, made detailed observations of lunar and solar eclipses in Cairo, again invaluable data.

Today, once again, scientists will be hoping to gather invaluable data. In an eclipse, the edges of the solar corona become visible and it offers a brief chance to study how the sun’s light affects Earth’s atmosphere, to measure wavelengths or how charged the ionosphere is.

The essential rule when looking at an eclipse is never to look directly at it for fear of eye damage. Whilst some parts of the world will have a total eclipse today, here in the UK it is only a partial one. Nevertheless, this evening, between 7.52pm and 8.51pm, I will once again be walking with the dogs on the dark  lawns on the slim chance that the weather might cooperate so that I can catch a peak of the moon…

I know that in many parts of the world  the sun is not really being stolen but it is extraordinary how there is still some essential deep emotional fear and foreboding as our view of the world  goes dark – despite all our sophistication. The sun helps mark our north, our south, our east and west, our working weeks and our Sunday rest.

To quotes Galileo: “The sun, with all those planets revolving around it and dependent on it can still ripen a bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else in the universe to do.”