Planning ahead

When I turned 6 on the 23rd of October in 1976 I got one of the best birthday presents I’ve ever had. The sun hid behind the moon. I remember being so excited. We made pinhole cameras and my dad explained what was going to happen. We even went on holidays to somewhere further south in order to be closer to the path of the totality (I can’t remember where and it’s too late to call mum and ask). I have a vivid memory of sitting in the car watching the dot of light in my pinhole camera being slowly nibbled away as the daylight faded to an eerie orange colour. It was just so cool. I think that’s when I got hooked on all things astronomical.

Yep, a solar eclipse makes a great birthday present. As did the plastic pterodactyl I got on the same day, I kept that flying reptile right up to the week before I got married when I culled my “keeping boxes” and my parents decided to be helpful and threw out the box of stuff I wanted to keep instead of the one I wanted to discard. No, I’m not bitter, why do you ask?

This solar eclipse memoir inspired by this post on Hoyden About Town.

Now for the planning bit. Thanks to Sydney Observatory’s upcoming sky events I can do some thinking ahead.

I’ve never been to Cairns and I haven’t really wanted to go there either, but this seems like a good reason to head north. Except, November? In far north Queensland? I don’t know if I can come at that.

Total eclipse of the Sun 14 November 2012

This will be the first opportunity to see a total eclipse from Australia since the South Australian eclipse of 2002. In 2012 the eclipse will be visible from North Queensland. The eclipse track will begin in the Gulf of Carpentaria, cut through Cape York and after moving out into the Coral Sea continue across the Pacific Ocean towards North America.

Cairns is on the path of the eclipse and may be the best viewing spot. Totality will occur at 6.40am Eastern Standard Time with the Sun 14 degrees above the horizon. Totality will last just over two minutes.

In Sydney the eclipse will be seen as partial beginning at 7.09am and finishing at 9.04am. Eclipse maximum will be at 8.02am with about 70% of the Sun’s diameter covered by the Moon.

Path of the 2012 total eclipse of the Sun in Australia

And here’s a good reason to stay living in Sydney. For the next 20 years. What’s the bet we don’t fare any better with the weather than poor William Scott.

Total eclipse of the Sun 22 July 2028

Should you be in Sydney on 22 July 2028 at 2.00pm you can view a total eclipse of the Sun. For 3 minutes and 50 seconds the Moon will fully cover the Sun, called totality, turning daytime into night time. This event is rarely visible from a large city like Sydney. Interestingly a similar eclipse happened on 26 March 1857. The astronomer Rev. William Scott travelled to South Head at the entrance to Sydney Harbour. At 6:50am he tried to observe the eclipse, for the 3 minutes that the Moon fully covered the Sun. As sunrise was at 6.00am, the Sun was only 9 degrees about the eastern horizon. Luck was not on his side as clouds made it impossible to directly view the eclipse.

Path of the 2028 total eclipse of the Sun in Australia

Something to look forward to hey?

One Response to “Planning ahead”

  1. Ariane says:

    I remember that eclipse. We sat in our lounge room with the curtains drawn and watched it in a shoe box. I think I expected to be able to see one every year…

    Sounds like a good reason to go to Cairns to me. Elissa might even be old enough not to be hideous on the flight.

    Of course, there may be no fuel to get there with…

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