SYDNEY: On November 14, the long shadow of the Moon will plunge parts of Far North Queensland and the Northern Territory into darkness for two minutes.
The path of the eclipse will start at sunrise in the Northern Territory, east of Darwin. It will travel across the Gulf of Carpentaria and Cape York before heading out over the South Pacific Ocean, and will not cross land again.
Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea will witness a partial eclipse (for a full list of locations and times of the partial eclipse, hit ‘PLAY’ above the image). The largest city to experience totality – when the entire Sun is blocked out – will be Cairns, in Far North Queensland, which will occur for two minutes between 6:38am and 6:40am.
Cairns goes eclipse crazy
Between 50,000 and 60,000 scientists, astronomers, eclipse chasers, their friends and families from around the world will be in the region to the see the eclipse, the first for Cairns and Great Barrier Reef since 710AD, according to Tourism Queensland’s acting CEO Leanne Coddington.
“Three charter flights with 1200 scientists will arrive from Japan, six cruise ships will be moored off the coast and other scientists will study the effects of the eclipse on the marine life of the Great Barrier Reef and Queensland’s rainforest birds and animals,” Coddington said in a statement.
Tourists to the area have booked out hot air balloon rides above the Atherton Tablelands, scenic flights over the Great Barrier Reef and horse riding tours on remote Queensland beaches. The area is also host to an eclipse music festival and an eclipse marathon, where runners start as soon as the Sun re-emerges from behind the Moon and the corona is broken.
How to view the solar eclipse
It is important not to look at the Sun without proper protection, as the UV light can damage your eye – and this includes looking through telescopes without solar filters, said Tanya Hill, Museum Victoria’s astronomer, who is heading to Palm Cove on the coast of Queensland for the eclipse. Though the Sun will seem less bright while it is partially covered, don’t be fooled: it can still be damaging.
“But there are some really great ways to view the eclipse as well. Don’t let that stop you from seeing such an amazing event,” said Hill. “Most science centres and other places will be selling ‘eclipse glasses’. They are relatively cheap – they sell for about $2…. they’ll block all the harmful light.
“Another easy way is the pinhole projection, which is where you make a small hole in a piece of paper. You don’t look through the hole but what you do is allow the Sun’s light to travel through the hole and then project an image of the Sun either on a second piece of paper or even [...] on the ground.”
You may even find “a natural pinhole projection – even the leaves of a tree can actually be enough, and you end up having all these little crescent Suns appearing on the ground or on a nearby wall.”
And, lastly, you can visit “a local observatory or an amateur group that are doing eclipse viewing. Then, of course, they might have special solar filters for their telescopes, which can allow you to view the eclipse through a telescope,” said Hill.
Do a science during totality
If you will be in the path of totality, you can look directly at the Sun during the totality to observe the Sun’s corona, the outer atmosphere of the Sun.
You can also contribute to the Eclipse Megamovie Project, by uploading photos and videos of totality captured on your smart phone to Space Sciences Laboratory in California. The footage will be combined create the first ultra-high time resolution movie of a solar eclipse, which, if successful, will be the first time the Sun’s corona has been captured in such detail, said Hill.
Send a copy of your photos to firstname.lastname@example.org and you may end up getting published online or in the magazine.
To choose a viewing location, Hill recommends choosing a location with a good Easterly outlook, as the eclipse occurs at sunrise and the receding shadow will be visible after the eclipse ends.
On the edge of the eclipse path, Baily’s Beads will be more prominent. These are the bright spots created by light shining through the valleys in the Moon’s mountains when the Sun is nearly completely blocked out.
COSMOS Magazine’s deputy editor, Jonathan Nally, will be in Cairns for the eclipse and sub-editor, Rivqa Rafael, will be in the Atherton Tableland. Look out for their updates on the COSMOS Twitter account.
Watch the eclipse live
Feed of the eclipse from Mareeba, Queensland, courtesy of NASA, the Astronomical Association of Queensland, and Tourism Queensland:
Video streaming by Ustream
The eclipse from a resort in Port Douglas:
Streaming Live by Ustream
The eclipse from Fitzroy Island:
Live broadcasting by Ustream
Fact sheet from the Astronomical Society of Australia