In December 2002, an intrepid group of Bobby Dazzler people travelled to Lyndhurst at the southern end of the Strzelecki Track in South Australia to view a total eclipse of the sun. Lyndhurst’s normal population of something less than 20 increased to about 7000 for the occasion.
A total eclipse of the sun occurs when the moon comes between the sun and the Earth and completely blocks out the sun. The atmosphere around Lyndhurst was electric. We readied our eclipse-viewing glasses as the moon gradually blocked out more and more of the sun, until finally the last speck of the sun disappeared, and for a couple of minutes, only the brilliant white “ring of fire” – the sun’s corona – appeared around the black disc of the moon. We were in semi-darkness. Then the moon slowly moved away, and finally full sunlight was restored. It was a truly memorable experience!
No total eclipse of the sun has occurred in Australia since then, but there will be one in November this year. It will pass across the top of Arnhem Land and then Cape York, the centre line passing across the east coast about half way between Cairns and Port Douglas. Cairns is more accessible than Lyndhurst, and will without doubt draw a large group of visitors for the occasion, including the “eclipse chasers” who travel to all parts of the world to view total eclipses. If you’re thinking of going there, you’d do well to make your plans ASAP. For more details, see http://www.eclipsecairns.com/ .
The next total eclipse visible in Australia after that will be in 2023 in Exmouth, WA. Then a real ripper in 2028 visible right across Australia, including in Sydney. Can you wait? Will your eyesight still be up to it? Will you still be around?