Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Solar Eclipse, Cairns 2012

On 14 Nov 2012 right in the morning, there was a total solar eclipse viewable from Cairns, QLD Australia. As I live in QLD I decided to see the eclipse - a real treat, as I've never seen one before, and a *total* (as opposed to partial or annular) solar eclipse is a fairly rare occurence in one's lifetime. I rationed off one day of leave, flying up the night before the eclipse and back the following evening.

Wednesday morning, 5AM. I wake up and head out to Cairns esplanade, and am greeted by this dismal weather (come on QLD, we're the "Sunshine State"??!!):

It will clear up, right? There's an hour until totality....No. See that big fat cloud over the peninsula? Well, it conspired to cover the sun for the ENTIRE FIRST THREE QUARTERS of the eclipse.

ooooo, creepy. It's dark but it's 6.40am!
Still, totality was cool when it happened - the sky got dark and the birds all stopped flying/chattering.

It's a shame we didn't get to actually *see* the sun though (and still hadn't all morning), because that's one of the main points of a total solar eclipse (being able to look at the sun with your naked eye). I always thought an eclipse would be pitch-black, but turns out it's more like twilight.

Yay I got to use my eclipse glasses!
It lasted a couple of minutes before the sky got bright again. And then, 20 minutes after totality had finished, the sun *finally* decided to peek its head out from the cloud obscuring it, so we all got to see it for the first time that morning. By then the moon was only about 50% covering the sun and on the way out, but at least I got to use my eclipse glasses!

I was trying to keep a positive attitude about it all, but then I got to the airport and caught the plane back home with everyone else from my city who'd also gone to see the eclipse. 
Apparently had I been just 20mins drive south, west, or north of Cairns (or really anywhere *except* Cairns), the clouds would have cleared just in time for me to see the totality!

In the absence of a sun to look at, I could look at other things.
Like this cloud floating way too low?!?!
(It definitely isn't steam coming from the boat...)
AAARRRRGHHHHHH!! Did everyone see the eclipse except me??!! To make matters worse, had I stayed in my home city I would have at least seen an 80% eclipse whereas because of the clouds in Cairns I only saw about a 50%!

 Ahh well. I'm trying really hard to remain positive about it, although it's hard when you've gone so far only to miss by a 20minute drive. Next time...(we don't get another total eclipse in Australia til 2028).

Or...Anyone up for a holiday to Indonesia in March 2016? Anyone? :D

1 comment:

  1. Dear friend,
    I flew to Port Douglas all the way from Greece. Me and my boyfriend carried 3 telescopes with us (a 3,5 inch, a 5-inch and a Corona PST). After 3 days of nerve-wrecking forecasts and plans over plans to find the right spot, we decided to stay put in PD where we had originally planned to see the eclipse.
    Guess what? We were set up on the wrong mile of the 4 Mile Beach! 200 metres from where we were standing, folks saw more than a minute of totality, and the rest of the beach to the north saw it all. We missed ALL of totality and only got to see the partial phases.
    Don't feel so bad. There's always worse.
    It would be my first total eclipse, and I was so heartbroken to be one of the few unlucky ones in PD that day.
    I totally get your disappointment, but if it is any consolation, you didn't have to fly to the other end of the world and spend tons of money only to be left with a bitter feeling of sadness, in a town where everybody else was ecstatic about what they had witnessed...