Dec 5, 2012

Totally off topic: When the sun went out over FNQ

And now for something totally different. The best images and videos made of the recent eclipse of the sun in far northern Queensland.

Ben Sandilands — Editor of Plane Talking

Ben Sandilands

Editor of Plane Talking

Mid eclipse image by Geoff Sims under the clear skies of a western Cape York site

It’s three weeks since the moon’s shadow raced across a narrow strip of Arnhem Land and far northern Queensland causing a total eclipse of the sun on the morning of 14 November.

This eclipse chaser missed out on this rare Australian eclipse, but saw the 23 October 1976 event from the coast near Bega,NSW and the sensationally colourful but rapid 4 December 2002 eclipse which occurred shortly before sunset from a vantage point north of Lyndhurst SA.

After the 1976 eclipse we had walked back to the car past a camp where a group of young people who had been fishing were still in a state of post eclipse shock. They had been unaware there was to be an eclipse, and had been totally blindsided by the rapidly escalating weirdness of the changes that preceded it, just as it thrilled us.

A wind caused by falling temperatures had began to roar at us off the wave tops below our cliff top vantage place. Sea birds circled and cried in confusion as the landscape went strangely ochre coloured, and the wall of darkness of what was a fairly long duration eclipse swept over us.  The ethereal wings of the sun’s corona appeared around the black disc of the moon. It was the noisiest, longest and most unsettling eclipse I have yet seen, and for our friends around in the next cove, utterly terrifying and baffling.

This week the Australian astronomy site, Ice in Space, emailed subscribers a round up of links to outstanding accounts, images and videos of this latest solar eclipse.

Including Geoff Sims’ site. The image at the top of this page is but a very low resolution rendition of one of his many images. The optics of a low elevation of the sun shortly after sunrise over Pormpuraaw on the western side of Cape York accentuates the presence and shape of the lunar shadow much the way it appeared like a black searchlight racing up from the western horizon at Lyndhurst 10 years earlier, and before the incredible quality of image capture now possible with current digital technology had become more accessible.

The motion of the moon’s shadow is made very apparent on a high definition time lapse sequence Sims has posted on Vimeo on his site with the full screen version found here. It’s the finest such sequence to illustrate a total eclipse of the sun that this eclipse tragic has ever found.

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Leave a comment

2 thoughts on “Totally off topic: When the sun went out over FNQ

  1. Scott Bailey

    Hi Ben,
    A piloting mate of ours named Michael has some great shots of the eclipse, even a small video, that you may want to check out also.
    Keep up the great news.

  2. Ben Sandilands

    That’s a terrific site. Well worth readers taking some time out to explore it in more detail.

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