For natural cosmic phenomena, you don’t get more remarkable than a Total Eclipse of the Sun!
For a total solar eclipse to occur, the Sun, Moon and Earth need to be perfectly aligned in their orbits, with the Moon in the middle. As the Moon travels between the Sun and the Earth, its shadow is cast onto the surface of the Earth.
Eclipses are excellent examples of the extraordinary motion of the objects within our Solar System. This year, Western Australians have the privilege of viewing a Total Solar Eclipse on 20th April. On mainland Western Australia, the Total Solar Eclipse will only be visible from the Exmouth area. The Moon will be directly in front of the Sun, blocking sunlight from reaching the Earth. The rest of WA and Australia will witness a partial solar eclipse.
How to View a Solar Eclipse Safely
Never look directly at the Sun. Looking directly at the Sun is unsafe except during the brief total phase (“totality”) of a total solar eclipse, when the Moon entirely blocks the Sun’s bright face. On mainland WA, totality will only occur in the Exmouth area. Everywhere else in WA and Australia will experience a partial solar eclipse which is not safe to look at with the unprotected eye. The Astronomical Society of Australia has practical guidance on how to view a solar eclipse including how to use solar eclipse glasses safely, and other methods of viewing.
Solar eclipse glasses that are compliant with Australian and international standards provide necessary protection to view the eclipse safely. Only buy from trusted sources to ensure compliance with Australian and international safety standards, such as BinoCentral or Being in the Shadow.
When to look: From 11:29:41am to 11:30:40am, 20th April.
Where to look from: On mainland Western Australia, the Total Solar Eclipse will only be visible from the Exmouth area. The rest of WA and Australia will witness a partial solar eclipse.
During a total solar eclipse the light from the Sun is blocked by the Moon. However, you won’t notice a visual drop in brightness until at least 75% of the Sun is behind the Moon. Once the Sun is blocked out, a strange phenomenon noticed by eclipse chasers is the silence. Most wildlife – particularly birds – believe it to be nighttime and prepare for sleep, usually by stopping any calls and cries!
Here on Earth we are lucky enough to be able to witness two kinds of eclipses:
- Solar eclipses, when the Moon moves directly between the Sun and the Earth and partially or completely obscures the Sun; and
- Lunar eclipses, when the Moon moves directly into the shadow cast by Earth into space.