Observations

Partial solar eclipse – the Moon to take a bite out of the Sun

The peak of the partial solar eclipse on 7 February 2008 at 3:44 pm drawn by Nick Lomb

The peak of the eclipse as seen from Sydney, drawn by Nick Lomb

The first partial eclipse of the Sun in over four years will occur on the afternoon of Thursday 7 February. As viewed from Sydney the eclipse begins at 2:53 pm summer time and ends at 4:32 pm. At its peak at 3:44 pm 21.5% of the Sun’s width will be covered by the Moon.

From parts of Antarctica the eclipse will be an annular one, that is, the Moon will not completely cover the Sun, but will leave a ring of light around the edge of the Sun.

In Australia the eclipse will be visible from all capital cities except Perth and Darwin. Details in local time below in the order City/Eclipse starts/Eclipse ends/Maximum cover of Sun’s width:

Adelaide 2:37 pm 3:16 pm 3%
Brisbane 2:19 pm 3:39 pm 14%
Canberra 2:48 pm 4:27 pm 21%
Hobart 2:19 pm 4:16 pm 30%
Melbourne 2:39 pm 4:15 pm 18%
Sydney 2:53 pm 4:32 pm 22%

The last solar eclipse visible from Sydney was a partial one on 24 November 2003 and the next one visible from Sydney will be on evening of Australia Day 2009. The next eclipse of the Sun seen from elsewhere in the world will be a spectacular total eclipse on 1 August 2008 visible from Russia and China. Sydney Observatory is organizing a tour to Russia for the eclipse and there are still spaces available.

Remember that it is always dangerous to look directly at the Sun. The safest way to view an eclipse is by projection, either with a telescope for those with access to one or with a pinhole camera. It is easy to make a pinhole camera: punch a hole or a series of holes about a millimetre in diameter in one card and with back to the Sun let sunlight pass through the pinhole on to another white card or piece of paper.

Alternatively, if you are in Sydney and can leave work or school early come to Sydney Observatory for safe solar viewing.

Event: Safe Sun eclipse viewing
Date: Thursday 7 February 2008
Time: 2:30 pm to 4:30 pm
Place: Sydney Observatory
Watson Road, Observatory Hill, The Rocks
Information: 61 2 9921 3485 or www.sydneyobservatory.com
Cost: $7 per adult and $5 for children, concessions and Members.
No bookings required.

2 responses to “Partial solar eclipse – the Moon to take a bite out of the Sun

  • Hello Steve. The main part of the eclipse, where it is annular, that is, the Moon will leave a ring of light at the edge of the Sun’s disc, is in Antarctica. The outer edge of the shadow known as the penumbra stretches only as far as Adelaide and Brisbane. The fact that Perth, Darwin and Alice Springs miss out on this occasion is not due to their time zones, but due to the geometry of the eclipse.

  • Hey Guys,

    I am just wondering why Darwin and Perth will not be able to see the eclipse. I was thinking about it being a time zone or longitude/latitude related problem but both don’t fit.

    I live in Alice Springs… just thought I would mention that before I start as I know its 1500km from Darwin.

    Adelaide and South Australia are in the same time zone as the NT so can’t be time… maybe daylight saving?

    Perth is further west but Adelaide is roughly the same latitude and Brisbane roughly is the same longitude as Alice Springs.

    any help would be good!

    Steve

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