When dawn breaks across Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef on November 14, 2012, an eerie silence will replace the usual early morning chatter of birds and animals. The temperature will drop as the moon passes in front of the sun and casts an enormous shadow that will plunge the land into darkness.
Eclipse 2012 is attracting tourists from all over the world to the Cairns region. The total solar eclipse will be seen along a narrow strip of land – about 200km wide – which crosses the top of Queensland and the Coral Sea. A detailed map can be seen here.
It is rare for a total eclipse to be visible from land, so the excitement is building for those who want to share in this extraordinary event. The waters of the Great Barrier Reef and Cairns regions are expected to be inundated with cruise ships and other vessels in time to see the eclipse. Accommodation inquiries are flooding in and special events have been planned to celebrate the eclipse. A good viewing spot can be found anywhere from a beach between Cooktown and Innisfail, an island of the Great Barrier Reef or head for a wide open space on the Atherton Tablelands or on Cape York Peninsula.
As the moon’s shadow starts to move across the sun, it will appear as though there is a small bite which will gradually increase in size. Watch for Baily’s Beads, where the sun shines through the rugged surface of the moon, and creates points of light on the edge of the moon’s silhouette. These can only be seen for a few seconds at the centre of the eclipse path, but are visible for a slightly longer time near the outer edge of the path of the darkest part of the shadow. When only one point of light is left, it is called the Diamond Ring Effect as the single bead of light looks like a shining ring with an enormous sparkling diamond.
When the shadow of the moon covers the sun entirely, only a faint halo can be seen. This phase is known as ‘totality’. As the moon moves away from the sun, Baily’s Beads can be seen again before the sun is fully visible.
By Australian Solar Quotes