Gerry Pease: Total Eclipse in Queensland

Posted: November 22, 2012 by tallbloke in Astronomy, solar system dynamics

My thanks to Gerry Pease for sending in this press cutting  from Queensland Autralia, where a 2 minute 5 second totality Solar Eclipse took place on November 14. He and his good lady witnessed this awesome celestial event:

We were on the Palm Beach jetty, on a part of it where (surprisingly) it was not very crowded, and we had a great naked eye and 7X binocular view throughout the two minute totality.  Barbara took some pictures of the eclipsed Sun at totality and of the crowds after totality, which we may send out later.

The Diamond Ring effect is shown following totality of the solar eclipse at Palm Cove in Australia’s Tropical North Queensland on November 14, 2012. Eclipse-hunters have flocked to Queensland’s tropical northeast to watch the region’s first total solar eclipse in 1,300 years on November 14, which occurred as the moon passed between the earth and the sun, casting a shadow path on the globe and lasting for a maximum on the Australian mainland of 2 minutes and 5 seconds. Photo: Greg Wood, AFP/Getty Images / SF

Gerry Tells us:

The diamond following totality got really bright a fraction of a second after the above picture was taken, totally wowing all observers.  This was one of the most spectacular solar eclipse diamonds that Barbara and I have seen in any of the four total eclipses we have observed.

An interesting difference of this one from the three total solar eclipses we have experienced was the low elevation angle of the eclipsed Sun –  only 19 degrees above the ocean horizon.  Though it went from bright daylight to darkness in the blink of an eye, as all total solar eclipses do, it didn’t get pitch black because of the sunlight reflecting off the ocean below and clouds above at a low angle of incidence. 

Despite the lack of total darkness, the bright red Baily’s Beads all around the circumference of the eclipsed Sun were quite visible to the naked eye, though not well captured in any of the pictures I have seen of this eclipse.  No eclipse pictures ever do justice to the total eclipse experience, though.


SYDNEY (AP) — From boats bobbing on the Great Barrier Reef, to hot air balloons hovering over the rainforest, and the hilltops and beaches in between, tens of thousands of scientists, tourists and amateur astronomers watched as the sun, moon and Earth aligned and plunged northern Australia into darkness during a total solar eclipse Wednesday.

Stubborn clouds that many feared would ruin the view parted — somewhat — in north Queensland, defying forecasts of a total eclipse-viewing bust and relieving spectators who had fanned out to glimpse the celestial phenomenon.

“Immediately before, I was thinking, ‘Are we gonna see this?’ And we just had a fantastic display — it was just beautiful,” said Terry Cuttle of the Astronomical Association of Queensland, who has seen a dozen total solar eclipses over the years. “And right after it finished, the clouds came back again. It really adds to the drama of it.”

Spectators whooped and clapped with delight as the moon passed between the sun and Earth, leaving a slice of the continent’s northeast in sudden darkness.

Starting just after dawn, the eclipse cast its 150-kilometer (95-mile) shadow in Australia’s Northern Territory, crossed the northeast tip of the country and was swooping east across the South Pacific, where no islands are in its direct path. A partial eclipse was visible from east Indonesia, the eastern half of Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and southern parts of Chile and Argentina. Totality — the darkness that happens at the peak of the eclipse — lasted just over two minutes in the parts of Australia where it was visible.

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  1. Tim Cullen says:

    There is also a Penumbral Lunar Eclipse on 28th November 2012.

    Unfortunately, I’m in a “not visible” region but Australia will see the “full monty”.


    If anyone has a spot light meter [or a digital camera that can take light meter readings] then I would be VERY interested to know your LUMEN readings of the FULL MOON just before and just after the eclipse.

    Please ZOOM IN as much as you can to exclude “dark sky” as much as possible.
    Thanks – Tim

  2. Gerry says:

    Thanks for posting this, Roger. Since your readers are interested in details that many people don’t seem to care much about, I offer the following explanation of why the diamond exiting totality was so sensationally bright. It was a Triple Diamond, shining gloriously through three adjacent canyons on that part of the Sun’s limb. A real blast!

    Here’s a pretty good video of it:

    Watch in full screen mode.

    -Gerry Pease

  3. Gerry says:

    Yes, three Lunar limb canyons spotlighting three points on the solar limb!

  4. DavidH says:

    Argh! Palm Beach! I was 2km or so south of there at Kewarra Beach and the cloud obscured the critical moments of totality. We could see the people up at Palm Beach – I think that triple diamond that Gerry mentions above as all those people taking flash photos of the corona. Anyway, despite the cloud it still was awesome where I was. Already starting to think of the next big eclipse – Sumatra or Borneo in March 2016, then a side trip to see Krakatau.

  5. Gerry says:

    Immediately after obtaining a clear view of totality through a hole in the clouds at Palm Cove, we heard that Kewarra had been clouded out at totality. I personally have been clouded out of two total solar eclipses, so you have my heartfelt condolences.

    In 1991, our first successful total solar eclipse expedition was to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Cabo San Lucas is at the southern tip of Baja California, and there we had a magnificent view of the gigantic umbral shadow of the Moon sweeping eastward over the Pacific ocean to us at several times the speed of sound, instantly plunging us into deep darkness. Stars shone brightly and birds suddenly stopped chirping. A huge prominence was visible on the edge of the incredibly beautiful fully eclipsed Sun during the nearly seven minute duration of eery totality! We were now thoroughly hooked on the total eclipse experience.

    Just after totality, we heard that some of our expedition members who had driven and set up a few miles north in order to view the eclipse at the exact centerline of the eclipse path had been clouded out for the entire duration of totality! Their disappointment was easy to imagine, especially by those of us who had almost decided to join them.