MV Blog

DISPLAYING POSTS TAGGED: solar eclipse (3)

Two eclipses for April

Author
by Tanya
Publish date
11 April 2014
Comments
Comments (1)

Not one, but two eclipses will occur this month and both are partially visible from Melbourne.

Just before sunset on the 15th April, the Moon will rise already totally eclipsed. It should look quite eerie to see a red moon rising above the eastern horizon and it's always amazing how bright the Moon appears as it moves out of the Earth's shadow and returns to its usual splendour. While you are watching the eclipse, be sure to take a look at Mars, which will be just to the left of the Moon and the bright star Spica (in the constellation of Virgo) that will be found just above.

Lunar Eclipse The progression of a total lunar eclipse in August 2007.
Image: Phil Hart
Source: http://www.philhart.com/
 

Two weeks later on the 29th April, the Moon and Sun will come together in the sky and we'll see a partial solar eclipse. The eclipse will begin during the afternoon and reach its maximum point just before sunset. At the height of the eclipse 64% of the Sun's diameter will be covered by the Moon. The Sun will still be partially eclipsed as it sets below the western horizon.

Solar Eclipse The Moon takes a bite out of the Sun.
Image: Phil Hart
Source: http://www.philhart.com/
 

The timings for both the lunar and solar eclipse can be found from the Planetarium's monthly newsletter – Skynotes – which is a great guide for finding your way around the night sky.

Importantly, lunar eclipses are lovely to watch and you don't need any special equipment. Solar eclipses, on the other hand, require a bit of care and planning. Never look directly at the Sun.

There are safe ways to watch a solar eclipse and the easiest is to purchase special eclipse glasses. They are available from the Scienceworks shop and will allow you to watch the event, while protecting your eyesight.

You can also create a simple "pinhole" projection. It's as easy as making a small pinhole in a piece of paper or cardboard. Do not look through the hole, but allow the Sun to shine through and project an image onto a second piece of cardboard. Even a blank wall or a clear patch of ground can make a good surface for projection.

And as I've mentioned previously on the Museum's blog, sometimes nature helps out too. If you can see sunlight travelling through the leaves of a tree, you’ve got yourself some ready-made pinhole projections. Check the ground and it might be covered with little crescent Sun images, just like this great example from the Astronomy magazine website.

Watching the total solar eclipse

Author
by Tanya
Publish date
14 November 2012
Comments
Comments (0)

I had never seen a total solar eclipse before, and I was very excited to travel to Queensland to watch Australia's first solar eclipse in a decade just before 6AM this morning. 

It was incredible to wander down to the beach at 4AM and see it already packed with eclipse chasers! Thousands of people were at Palm Cove alone, more in surrounding Cairns and Port Douglas, while some headed inland where the weather prospects were better.

People on beach Eclipse chasers on the beach at Palm Cove, Queensland, awaiting the total solar eclipse.
Image: Tanya Hill
Source: Tanya Hill
 

We saw a magnificent sunrise over the water, but minutes later, when the partial eclipse was due to begin, the Sun disappeared behind clouds. It was an anxious wait but half an hour later, the clouds parted and we all donned our eclipse glasses to see a large chunk missing from the Sun.

The totality was perfect. Just beforehand you could tell that the surrounding light was different; it seemed sharp and unnatural. Then the brilliant diamond ring effect lit up the bottom of the sun and the moment had begun.

Total solar eclipse The moment of perfect totality, when the Moon was exactly in front of the Sun.
Image: Tanya Hill
Source: Tanya Hill
 

I was amazed by the colour - we could really see the pink prominences dancing around the Sun. Everyone cheered and just enjoyed the beauty of this natural show. We could see Venus shining bright above the Sun, the wispy corona and the Sun's outer gaseous layer, along with a dazzling bright ring encircling the Moon. It was surprising how long the two minutes lasted. The second diamond ring effect was blinding and spectacular as the Sun began to emerge once again.

The Yolngu of Arnhem Land tell their eclipse story of the sun-woman and moon-man coming together in the sky as husband and wife. It struck me that this is a phenomena that has been seen by so many, across thousands of years. I feel so fortunate to have shared in the experience.

Links:

'Eclipse groupies take shot in the dark,' The Age, 11 November 2012

'Eclipse sheds light on sizzling sun,' The Age, 14 November 2012 

November solar eclipse

Author
by Tanya
Publish date
1 November 2012
Comments
Comments (5)

Coming up on the 14th November we have the chance to see a solar eclipse. From here in Melbourne it will be a partial eclipse, with 52 per cent of the Sun's diameter covered by the Moon. But up in Far North Queensland and the topmost of the Northern Territory, they will be treated to totality, where the Moon will completely block the Sun for just on two minutes.

Partial Solar Eclipse A partial eclipse will be seen from Melbourne on the 14 November 2012.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

The eclipse will occur during the early morning of 14 November, with the Sun still low in the east. Therefore, a good view of the horizon will be needed. The timing for Melbourne is as follows:

Eclipse begins: 7:16am
Mid-eclipse: 8:06am
Eclipse ends: 9:00am

It is important never to look directly at the Sun, even during an eclipse. While the Sun may appear less bright it can still cause long lasting eye damage.

There are safe ways to look at the eclipse – at the Scienceworks shop you can purchase eclipse glasses that will allow you to watch the event, while protecting your eyesight.

You can also create a simple "pinhole" projection. It's as easy as making a small pinhole in a piece of paper or cardboard. Do not look through the hole, but allow the Sun to shine through and project an image onto a second piece of cardboard. Even a blank wall or clear patch of ground can make good surfaces for projection.

Sometimes nature helps out too. If you can see sunlight travelling through the leaves of a tree, you’ve got yourself some ready made pinhole projections. Check the ground and it might be covered with little crescent Sun images. Take a look at this great example on the Astronomy magazine website.

I’ve never seen a Total Solar Eclipse, so I'm heading up to Queensland for my first chance. I've been told that it's quite an eerie experience to have darkness fall while it's still early morning.

If you will also be in the path of totality for this eclipse, then be sure to check out the Eclipse Megamovie Project. Use your smartphone to upload images and videos of the Sun during totality and the Space Sciences Laboratory in California will combine the footage to create the first ultra-high time resolution movie of a solar eclipse.

What I'm most looking forward to is the chance to see the Sun's corona, the bright and tenuous gas that surrounds the Sun. Normally it's invisible, drowned out by the Sun's glare, but being able to see hidden things is something that's always captivated me about astronomy.

Solar Eclipse from 1999. During totality the Sun's diffuse corona and thin pink chromosphere can be seen.
Source: Luc Viatour. www.lucnix.be
 

About this blog

Updates on what's happening at Melbourne Museum, the Immigration Museum, Scienceworks, the Royal Exhibition Building, and beyond.

Categories