Partial Solar Eclipse, April 29 2014


On the afternoon of Tuesday, April 29, there will be a partial solar eclipse right across most of Australia. It starts just before sunset and should be an impressive sight in all our skies.

slowly, bit by bit, a part of the Sun will appear to be eaten away like a little pac-man as the Moon passes slowly between us and the Sun. It’ll be at its best at around 5.15pm for NSW and Queensland, 4.37pm for South Australia, and 2.42pm in Perth, so stick around.

What Will Happen?

Progressively, the new moon will obscure up to 50% of the solar disc. This is an excellent opportunity of get dramatic images of the ‘Crescent’ sun setting using a correctly filtered camera. You will, however, need a flat, unobstructed horizon to see the eclipse at its best. It’s important you don’t look directly through the viewfinder OK.

Eclipses of the Sun are rare and arguably nature’s most spectacular and awe inspiring phenomenon. The next total eclipse to be seen from Australia won’t be until April 2023. Solar eclipse superstitions, beliefs and spells pervade history. Resounding screams and cries were the means by which people from ancient Rome tried to cast out the demons that overshadowed the solar disc.

Eclipse 2014

This is similar to what most Australia should see

In many regions, it was believed that eclipses occur when the sun is attacked by evil mythological creatures, a giant turtle in Vietnam, a jaguar in Latin America, a dragon in Asia and a werewolf in Romania. Ancient Chinese emperors appointed astrologers to warn of an impending solar eclipse. If they missed, it was off with their heads!

How To View

Remember, never look directly at the Sun, eclipsed or not, it’s just too risky. Cut a small clean hole up to 4 mm in diameter through some cardboard and project the image of the Sun through it onto some white A4 paper instead. You are basically making a simple pinhole camera, which will reveal the changes to the Sun’s outline quite satisfactorily.

Binoculars or a small telescope mounted on a tripod can also be used to project a magnified image of the Sun onto a white card. The farther away the card, the larger you can focus the image. This method of solar viewing is safe as long as you remember not to look through the binoculars or telescope when they are pointed toward the Sun. 

Look for little spots on your image, these are ‘sunspots’ you’ve heard so much about and this week the Sun is crawling with them! By the way, each one of those tiny dots you see is 2 to 3 times bigger than the Earth!

What It Will Look Like

Partial Eclipse as seen from Brisbane near maximum eclipse, 5:00 pm AEST. Simulated in Celestia. Click to enlarge Partial Eclipse as seen from Sydney near maximum eclipse, 4:55 pm AEST. Simulated in Celestia. Click to enlarge
Partial Eclipse as seen from Melbourne near maximum eclipse, 5:00 pm AEST. Simulated in Celestia. Click to enlarge Partial Eclipse as seen from Hobart near maximum eclipse, 4:55 pm AEST. Simulated in Celestia. Click to enlarge

 ( Courtesy Astroblog)

Not a lot of people realise our Sun is in fact a star similar to any other star you see in the night sky and its just on 1.5 million kilometres in diameter. One million Earths could fit inside the Sun! Because the Earth travels on an elliptical orbit around the Sun, the distance between the two bodies varies from 147 to 152 million kilometres. At around 4.5 billion years old, the Sun has already burned off about half of its Hydrogen. It has enough left to continue to burn Hydrogen for approximately another 5 billion years.

At the Sun’s core, energy is generated by nuclear fusion, as Hydrogen converts to Helium. The temperature inside the Sun can reach 15 million degrees Celsius – and you thought our Aussie summers were warm.  By the way did you now it takes light a bit over 8 minutes to reach your eye? It’s true, when you see the Sun rise in the morning you’re seeing the Sun not as it is now, but where it was 8 minutes ago!


On the night of April 28th, Slooh will broadcast the partial phases of the now nicknamed ‘Penguin’ annular solar eclipse live as it ventures over Australia. Coverage will begin on Monday, April 28th, starting at 11 pm PDT / 2 am EDT (4/29) / 06:00 UTC (4/29). Viewers can watch free on Slooh.com or by downloading the Slooh iPad app. The live image stream will be accompanied by discussions led by Slooh host Geoff Fox and observatory director Paul Cox. Slooh will also welcome guest expert Dr. Lucie Green, a BBC contributor and solar researcher at the Mullard Space Science Laboratory, UCL’s Department of Space and Climate Physics. Viewers can ask questions during the show by using hashtag #Slooh.

Observers in far southern regions of Earth will see the Sun partially covered by the Moon. The deepest part of the eclipse, where the Moon might be viewed as being completely enveloped by the larger-seeming and more distant Sun, can only be observed from deep within Antarctica, in a remote uninhabited region. This is the second of four eclipses in 2014, two solar and two lunar. The first was the total lunar eclipse on April 14th/15th, which was also covered by Slooh.

Says Slooh astronomer Bob Berman, “This is a thoroughly bizarre eclipse. When Slooh brings its live feeds from Australia, and we watch in real time as the inky black hemisphere of the Moon partially obscures the Sun, the greatest thrill might be an awareness of what’s occurring — unseen by any human — in a tiny region of Antarctica. Researchers at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station will not view any kind of solar eclipse. After all, their long six-month night began over a month ago, and the Sun is below the horizon for them.

If they could somehow rise off the icy surface and stretch their necks into space, they’d see a central annular eclipse, as it sweeps into space, narrowly missing our planet. But hundreds of miles farther north, where the very low Sun still sits on the horizon, barely up, well, anyone there would see the Moon covering the slightly larger-seeming Sun behind it. The result is a lopsided, off-center ring of fire surrounding the inky Moon. However, no human will be in that small region of Antarctica. Thus, this is one of the few annular eclipses that will most likely only be seen by penguins. Instead, Slooh will offer live views of the part of the eclipse that will be visible, exclusively from Australia.”

Broadcast Details

Start time:
April 28th at 11 pm PDT / 2 am EDT (4/29) / 06:00 UTC (4/29)

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