Egbert’s Australian Eclipse Adventure – Total Solar Eclipse in Cairns

Hi Folks,

Egbert here again, with the next part of our eclipse story. On the morning of the eclipse, we had to get up really really early, about 2.30am (that’s half past two in the morning, and everyone knows I like my sleep!), because this eclipse was an early one. It can happen at any time of the day, but today’s was expected between 5.30am and 7.30am.

Herman the happy German set up his Eclipse viewing equipment beside us. He lent Dr Murray a special gadget which we were able to put on the end of the camera we use for taking dental pictures, and then we could take pictures of the sun during the eclipse. NEVER ever try to take pictures of the sun without using that sort of equipment or a special camera, or you could damage your eyes or your camera or both.

We were expecting a bus at 3am, it was going to take us to a place to watch the eclipse, but at 3.20am it hadn’t turned up. Stephen called the bus company on his mobile phone and they told him that the bus had been cancelled and he should “try another bus company”. He figured that this might not be the most successful use of time at that hour of the morning, so he had to put plan B into action, which was to walk to a clear place to view the eclipse.

Herman sets up his equipment beside us at the waterfront

So we set off, walked across the city to the sea side and along the sea side until after the last street light and set up the gear. I helped lift things out of the back pack. We met a happy German called Herman, who was really interested in stars and telescopes and things, and he lent us a special gadget for taking photos of the sun using the camera that Dr Murray normally uses for taking pictures of children’s teeth – if you are visiting him for some orthodontics, you can ask him about it.

The total solar eclipse has different stages to it. When the sun is partially eclipsed, you can’t look at it without special glasses, so be careful or you could seriously damage your eyes! This photo was taken with Herman’s special eclipse gadget.

We were all worried that the clouds and rain would cause a problem, but it all worked out OK in the end! Not long after sunrise, the moon started moving across the sun – I could use my special glasses to watch it (but not the whole time, just for occasional glimpses) – and after about an hour, the moon was right in front of the sun and everything went dark.

I let Dr Murray do all the hard work while I sat back to watch it happen

The moon is a lot smaller than the sun, but the sun is a lot further away, and they both seem the same size from the earth. So when they line up, they make a shadow on a bit of the earth, which is where we were.

While the eclipse is taking place, the sun doesn’t really get darker until it’s nearly completely covered, then it suddenly gets dark like night time with a full moon (even though it’s not a full moon when it happens)

The total eclipse lasts about 2 minutes, then the moon begins moving away from the sun again and about an hour later, it’s not in front of the sun any more at all.

When it gets suddenly dark during the eclipse you can see things near the sun that would normally be difficult to see – this is the planet Venus

The sun and moon finally poked through the clouds for us to see!

Total eclipse – that is the only time it’s safe to look near the sun without the special glasses, and only for a couple of minutes!

There were big cheers from everyone when the sun and moon lined up, and then again when the sun started to come back out from behind the moon and shine again. And after a while when it got bright, we went for some breakfast.

Of course, if you are standing on a beach to watch an eclipse, make sure you know how far the tide is going to come in before you are finished – we just got packed up in time not to get washed away or eaten by crocodiles, or stung by jellyfish (which are really really dangerous in Australia)

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