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Australia 2012 - Total Eclipse

Well before dawn on the morning of the 14th November our groups began to gather on the beautiful sandy beach of Palm Cove in Northern Queensland. Venus was shining brilliantly in the east over the sea and the Southern Cross climbing high in the South. To a northern hemisphere observer Crux Australis is always a delight to see but this was just a precursor to an event that we hoped to witness soon after the sunrise: a total solar eclipse.

In his pre-eclipse briefing Dr John Mason had described that weather patterns in North Queensland and made it clear that there was no guarantee of clear skies for the event and having travelled almost ten thousand miles to this particular Pacific shore our nerve was put to the test as the sun rose out of the sea and into a sky with gathering clouds. First contact came and went with no clear view of the Sun and our hopes were looking forlorn as clouds threatened to spoil the show but as totality approached a clear gap appeared and the clouds seemed to be moving in the right direction and at the right speed to give us hope. With baited breath and much nail biting the seconds ticked by and with perhaps as little as a minute to second contact the Sun/Moon entered clear space. With the much anticipated totality upon us the elated crowd were treated to a truly stunning eclipse.

Talking after the eclipse astronomer Dr Mason commented "The Baily's Beads going in were really lovely. We had lots of prominences including a lovely arch prominence that became visible towards the end of the eclipse. The Diamond Ring was the thing that really made it for me because of the colours given to the first bead by the chromosphere - the whole beach went a pinky orange for a second or two, and the clouds around the eclipsed Sun caught the light. It was just wonderful.” He added “The corona was fairly typical for a solar maximum eclipse - bright and spiky all the way round, with lots of little prominences"

Some passengers took sophisticated equipment to photograph the eclipse in high definition whilst others were content to simply observe with their eyes. One passenger, Paul Whiting, recorded the temperature throughout the eclipse noting the brief drop in temperature at totality followed by a steep rise in temperature after third contact.   

 

 

Explorers wish to thank all those who sent their images and to Chris Bowden and Nick James for their videos of the event.

 

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John Mason's Eclipse Briefing
John Mason's Eclipse Briefing
Viewing from the beach
Mike and Elisabeth Davies
Total Eclipse by Nick James
Total Eclipse by Nick James
Diamond ring by Colin White
Eclipse Montage - C Bowden
Palm Cove eclipse viewing
Montage from Chris Bowden
Observatories Group at the Compact Array
Observatories Group at the AAO