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DISPLAYING POSTS FROM: Nov 2012 (10)

Watching the total solar eclipse

Author
by Tanya
Publish date
14 November 2012
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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 

Help us plan our future

Author
by Melinda
Publish date
9 November 2012
Comments
Comments (5)

Melinda is the manager of MV's Governance and Planning Department.

Between our three museums—Melbourne Museum, Scienceworks and the Immigration Museum— we exhibit world cultures, the science of our planet and universe, and Victoria's history and biodiversity. We take the show on the road and online, through the Discovery Program and our website.

Teacher with students Point Lonsdale Primary School students at the launch of the Surprises of the Cosmos exhibition at Scienceworks in 2011.
Image: Ben Healley
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Woman in gallery Muthi Muthi Elder and artist Aunty Barb Egan with one of her artworks in her River Woman exhibition that was on show at Birrarung Gallery, Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre earlier this year.
Image: James Henry
Source: Museum Victoria
 

We also look after the Royal Exhibition Building, and our 158-year-old scientific and cultural collections assist research into critical contemporary issues.

Dancers at Flinders St King Marong and members of the Safara Music School perform outside Flinders Street Station at the media launch of the West Africa exhibition at the Immigration Museum, 2010.
Image: Heath Warwick
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Planning for Museum Victoria's future is a mammoth and exciting task. We would like to hear what you value about Museum Victoria to help us steer the museum on behalf of all Victorians.

Please tell us: What do you like best about Museum Victoria? What do you think we could be doing better? What new things would you like to see us doing in the future?

You can leave your answers as a comment on this post, or if you'd prefer to reply privately, drop us a line via the Discovery Centre form

Discovery Centre makeover

Author
by Siobhan
Publish date
2 November 2012
Comments
Comments (1)

What a change has been wrought in the Discovery Centre this week! A change to the structure of the Discovery Centre service has really been reflected in the physical space.

Discovery Centre The new look Discovery Centre.
Image: Siobhan Motherway
Source: Museum Victoria
 

We will no longer be offering a free internet and printing service, so the number of computers in the public space has been reduced down to one table – leaving two new tables full of interesting specimens to touch and explore. It has been lovely this morning to see family groups coming through and engaging with these collection objects that are at kid height!

Shell display A display of shells at one of the new Discovery Centre desks.
Image: Siobhan Motherway
Source: Museum Victoria
 

An area with comfortable couches and seats allows for reading or informal chats with museum staff, and desk space with power points gives those with their own devices a place to plug in, charge up, and connect to the free museum wifi (just look for "museumpublic").

We have a beautiful new "...ology" display being installed up the back of the centre – when that is finished, we'll have a row of cases each devoted to a different discipline from the natural and earth sciences.

Crab in display case A King Crab on display in the Discovery Centre's new "...ology" display.
Image: Siobhan Motherway
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Not everything is new, of course; we still have cases with skulls, spiders, worked stone tools – these collections have proven very useful over the years, allowing enquirers to do some of their own identification and investigation. And we - the intrepid Discovery Centre staff – are still here, ready to take your questions big or small! The Discovery Centre's new operating hours are 10am-4.30pm, Tuesday to Saturday. However, we're still available to take your questions online 24/7, at our Ask the Experts page.

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
 

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

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