The morning of the 10th of May 2013 will see the Moon pass in front of the Sun in a rare event called an Annular “Solar Eclipse”. The eclipse will start at sunrise in Western Australia; move over Northern Territory in the region of Tennant Creek and cross Cape York before heading out towards Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Ocean. It will intersect the path of the total solar eclipse of 14 November 2012 in the area of the west coast of Cape York and will cross the east coast to the north of Cooktown. The indigenous communities of Kowanyama and Pormpuraaw will have the highly unusual privilege of experiencing two solar eclipses within six months. The rest of Australia will see a patial eclipse. The further south you go the less of the Sun there will be covered by the Moon.
Figure 1: The dark strip in the centre indicates the best locations for viewing the eclipse. Here, the Moon moves centrally in front of the Sun. The eclipse is also visible in the areas that are shaded red, but less of the Sun’s disk is obscured. The fainter the red shading the less of the Sun’s disk is covered during the eclipse. Image from www.timeanddate.com
Here in Coonabarabran a partial eclipse will be in progress from 7:42am (AEST) until 10:16am with the maximum eclipse set for 8:53 am. This will be the only eclipse visible in Australia in 2013.
From Coonabarabran only about 35% of the Sun will be eclipsed by the Moon, giving it an appearance similar to a gibbous Moon. The Moon will move across the North- Western limb of the Sun during the Ingress phase, and will leave the Sun’s disc on the Eastern limb.
In 2014, on April 29 another partial solar eclipse of similar coverage will be visible as the Sun is setting with maximum coverage occurring just before sunset. So this is the last opportunity to see a reasonable partial eclipse from the area for a decade. In 2023, there will be a very small, with only 0.138 of the solar surface covered mid-afternoon and then we will need to wait for the total eclipse of July 22, 2028 for a really good view!
WARNING: Viewing the Sun is quite dangerous and proper precautions should be adhered to so that no damage to your eyes will occur, by far the safest method is to use “Pinhole Projection” where a small hole about 1mm in size is punched through a piece of stiff white card so that the Sun’s image will be projected on a card placed behind it. This is an indirect form of viewing the Sun during the phases of the eclipse.
It is advised that children be supervised by adults closely at all times and should not be left unattended.
DO NOT use dark sunglasses, tinted windows, smoked glass, dark film etc to directly observe the Sun as these materials do not filter out harmful UV and IR radiation which can damage your eyesight.
DO NOT use cameras or any other optical aid such as telescopes or binoculars which do not have FULL APERTURE SOLAR FILTERS fitted.
A safe method of directly observing the Sun with the unaided eye will be to use “Eclipse Shades”, which are made from a special black polymer designed for observing the Sun. They are designed to filter out 99.9999% of the Sun’s visible light as well as completely blocking harmful Ultraviolet and Infrared radiation from the Sun. This will allow comfortable and SAFE observing provided that you adhere to the warnings labelled on them.
Eclipse shades can be purchased from reputable suppliers of Astronomical products.