EXCITEMENT had been building for months among astronomy enthusiasts around the region, but at the last moment cloud cover threatened to scuttle yesterday morning’s spectacular solar eclipse.
The show did go ahead though, the clouds finally parting over much of the region and the rare eclipse of the Sun being seen in all its glory. The best seat in the house was in far north Queensland, but for the thousands who gathered there from around the nation and the world, the weather didn’t go according to plan.
“We had members who travelled to Mareeba (in north Queensland) and they said it was a bit cloudy but at the point of totality it was very clear,” University of New England and Northern Tablelands Astronomical Society president Chris Wyatt said yesterday.
“But others were in Cairns on the beach and they didn’t see it (because of the cloud).”
For those in the north of Queensland, it was a total eclipse, the Moon entirely covering the Sun, causing the temperature to drop and the skies to darken, with just a thin ring of light visible around the Moon.
For the rest of Australia, it was a partial eclipse, with Mr Wyatt estimating about a 70 per cent coverage for this region, with the peak time a few minutes after 8am.
Hallsville resident Tammy McIlveen was in Port Douglas for the event, taking the spectacular shots that appear with this story. She now has a matching set apparently, too, having photographed a lunar eclipse earlier in the year.
Mr Wyatt was unable to be in north Queensland, instead travelling to Bendemeer from his home of Walcha – to minimise the risk of cloud cover – and setting up a telescope with filters and a camera attached.
Mr Wyatt watched the weather forecast closely in the lead-up to yesterday and admits he was worried.
“I had everything crossed,” he laughed, “but it was okay in the end.”
Even those unaware the eclipse was happening may have noticed it became a little darker about 8am yesterday, Mr Wyatt said.
The next total solar eclipse for Australia will give Sydney the best view in 2028, while there’ll be a partial one in May of next year, with northern Queensland again having the best view. Mr Wyatt has both dates circled, yesterday’s spectacle whetting his appetite for more.
“They say once you see (a total eclipse) you’re hooked on them,” he said.