Solar Eclipse To Be Feature Attraction
November 11, 2012

Upcoming Total Solar Eclipse Featured Attraction In Cairns

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports — Your Universe Online

Astronomers, other scientists and amateur space enthusiasts from around the world are preparing to converge on the coast of northeastern Australia, where spectators will be treated to a rare total eclipse of the sun later on this week.

According to NASA reports, the eclipse will occur approximately one hour after sunrise on the morning of November 14, local Australian time. At that hour, the moon will pass directly in front of the sun, the U.S. space agency says, and those living in or visiting the city of Cairns will be treated to Australia's first total solar eclipse in a decade.

Both Cairns and nearby Port Douglas will be plunged into darkness starting at roughly 5:45am, explain Tim Barlass and Stephen Cauchi of the Sydney Morning Herald. The full eclipse will occur at 6:39am, they add, and will last for 120 seconds before the region returns to partial-eclipse status for another hour.

''It's not as short as it can be but it's not as long as seven minutes 31 seconds, which is the longest a total eclipse can be - that's under the most ideal conditions of Earth, moon and sun geometry,'' Perry Vlahos, a spokesman with the Astronomical Society of Victoria, told the newspaper on November 11.

Only those in the immediate area will be able to experience the total eclipse in person, and Tourism Tropical North Queensland (TTNQ) spokesman Dale Flack told Barlass and Cauchi that hotels in the area were "close to capacity."

However, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, TTNQ has organized an official webcast, which will be streamed online by NASA. Also, live coverage of the event, streamed from the Slooh Space Camera, will be broadcast online at starting at 2:30pm Eastern (11:30am Pacific) on Tuesday, November 13.

The next total solar eclipse for our planet will occur over Africa on November 3, 2014, while residents of the United States will have to wait until August 21, 2017 to experience one. Another total eclipse will not occur in Australia until 2023, when one will be visible in Exmouth, in the western part of the country.

For those on the fence as to whether or not they should check out the event, either in person or via the Internet, consider how NASA eclipse expert Fred Espenak ranks the phenomenon among other natural wonders. "On a scale of 1 to 10," he said, "total eclipses are a million."