The annular eclipse — where the sun is almost entirely obscured by the moon, with a unique and beautiful ‘ring of fire’ visible around the outside — will only be visible to viewers across a remote, harsh strip of Antarctica. Australians get a less spectacular (but still fascinating) partial eclipse, with around two thirds of the sun obscured by the moon from the late afternoon until sunset tomorrow.
Here’s all the nitty-gritty: the eclipse will begin 1:15PM local time in Perth, with optimum viewing being 2:41PM, and the eclipse will end at 3:59PM. At almost the same time, the eclipse will begin in Melbourne (3:58PM) and Sydney (4:13PM), and although the sun will set in those locations before the eclipse finishes, optimum viewing should be just as the sun starts to hit the horizon in our nation’s two largest cities.
Courtesy of NASA.tv, you can watch two webcasts of the solar eclipse from different locations — the website and live-streams will be updated closer to the time of the eclipse tomorrow afternoon.
To view the solar eclipse at its fullest, you don’t need any special equipment — a pair of dark glasses (welding glasses are ideal, as are special purpose eclipse glasses) will let you look at the sun as it is eclipsed. Sunglasses aren’t a safe substitute, though. The more the eclipse progresses, the less light you’ll be able to see, and the safer it will become to look upwards. Never look at the sun unless your eyes are protected in some way, because excessive light can destroy the rods and cones inside your eyes and permanently damage your vision.
If you’re particularly techy, a long focal length on your digital SLR — at least 300mm, but around 500mm would be better — will get you some good high magnification shots of the sun in eclipse, and will make for safe viewing as long as you use a live view mode where the lens has its aperture mostly closed to protect the camera’s sensor. You can also use a telescope if you have one handy and it’s appropriately set up for viewing eclipses. You can find out more on how to safely view an eclipse here. [Space.com]