eclipse Total Solar Eclipse, 4 December eclipse

On December 4 2002, there will be an total eclipse of the Sun visible from Southern Australia. While only a few places in Southern Australia will see totality, most of South Australia, Western Australia, Victoria, the Northern Territory and parts of New South Wales will see a significant partial eclipse, with between 60%-90% of the suns disk being obscured. An partial eclipse of the sun is one that does not cover the whole of the Sun's disk. This is not as spectacular as a full solar eclipse, but will be incredible in it's own way. For example, in areas where there is greater than 60% solar disk coverage, there will be significant darkening and cooling, and the shadows of leaves will show cresent sun effects. This is also the first significant total solar eclipse in Australia since 1976.

Unfortunately, the total eclipse will be observed only in a few parts of mostly remote Australia (Ceduna, 'Wirraminna' and Purple Downs in SA, see Table I), but most coastal cities will see a partial eclipse with WA, NT, SA and VIC sites seeing the most coverage of the sun (about 90-80%) See Table II. While there is a wealth of information about the total aspect of the eclipse, there is less information about what those places that experience a partial eclipse will see (or when), this page is aimed at them. More details about the total eclipse can be found in the links section.

The path of the eclipse can be seen here. The blue line shows the path of totality, lines representing where 80% of the sun is covered by the moon are marked 80%. Also shown are the lines where the sun sets beore the eclipse, and where the sun sets at mid eclipse. .

Watching the eclipse

Do NOT look directly at the Sun! Do not use so called filters. Over exposed film, smoked glass etc. used as filters is NOT, repeate NOT safe. Never use eyepiece filters for telescopes. These can crack at inopportune times and destroy your eyesight.

The best way to observe this event is by making a pinhole in a stiff square of cardboard and projecting the image of the Sun onto a flat surface. You are basically making a simple pinhole camera, which will reveal the changes to the Suns outline quite satisfactorily. A card with a 1 mm hole should be projected onto a surface (eg white paper, or a white wall) about 20 cm away, a 5 mm hole shold be projected onto a surface 1 to 1.5 meters away.

Acceptable filters are specially coated filters that may be purchased from Astronomy suppliers, or number 14 welders filters. Again, these should be used with special care so as not to expose your eyes directly to the sun by accident.

Remember, except during totality, do NOT look directly at the Sun, as irrepairable eye damage or blindness can occur.

Where to see the eclipse

Table I: Towns in the Path of Totality, times NOT corrected for daylight saving
Town State Time Zone First Contact Mid eclipse Last contact
Ceduna SA ACST 17.40 18.40 19.29 (sunset)
Wirraminna SA ACST 17.41 18.41 19.17 (sunset)
Purple Downs SA ACST 17.42 18.40 19.13 (sunset)

Table II: Cities outside the path of Totality, times NOT corrected for daylight saving
City State Time Zone First Contact Mid Eclipse % Sun Covered Last Contact
Adelaide SA ACST 17.42 18.39 88% 19.17 (sunset)
Alice Springs NT ACST 17.48 18.46 78% 19.10 (sunset)
Brisbane QLD AEST 18.17 18.22 10% 18.32 (sun sets)
Broome WA AWST 16:23 17:19 50% 18:09
Canberra ACT AEST 18.11 18.54 70% 19.04 (sunset)
Darwin NT ACST 18.06 18.57 40% 19.01 (sunset)
Geraldton WA WAST 16:01 17:09 70% 18:08
Hobart TAS AEST 18.09 18.57 60% 19.07
Melbourne VIC AEST 18.12 19.03 76% 19:28 (sunset)
Perth WA WAST 16.02 17.07 82% 18.08
Sydney NSW AEST 18.15 18.42 60% 18.52 (sunset)

Remember, the times above are not corrected for daylight saving. Where times are given with (sunset), the sun sets before the eclipse is finished. In Brisbane and Sydney, the sun sets before mid-eclipse, so "mid" times are for 10 minutes before sunset. The cities listed in Table II are not the only places the eclipse can be seen, but will give you a general idea of the start/finish time in your area.


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Created: Monday, 25 November 2002, 11:22:32
Last Updated: Saturday, 30 November 2002, 11:22:32