Australian sky-gazers witness 'ring of fire' eclipse

May 10, 2013
File photo shows the various stages of a total solar eclipse.

Sky-gazers were treated to an annular solar eclipse in remote areas of Australia on Friday, with the Moon crossing in front of the Sun to leave a "ring of fire" around its silhouette.

The eclipse, which occurs when the passes between the Earth and the Sun but is too close to the Earth to completely cover the Sun, was seen in full across , while Sydney saw a .

"It was perfect," said Geoff Sims, who photographed the event from a remote spot in Western Australia.

"It was my first time I had seen an . I thought it was spectacular. I was actually amazed at how beautiful it was," he told AFP.

"It (the Sun) came up in a complete golden ring. Just phenomenal."

From his position about 150 kilometres (93 miles) south of the town of Newman, in 's Pilbara region, Sims described the moment he saw the Moon travel in front of the Sun, as if it was dancing.

"It is dancing because the Moon pivots around the edge of the Sun," he said.

In November, sky-gazers in Australia witnessed one of nature's greatest phenomena—a total solar eclipse, when the Moon completely covers the Sun and a faint halo or 'corona' appears.

The rare spectacle, which was viewed live by millions around the world, drew thousands of eclipse tourists to Queensland.

While it took place, the early chatter of birds and animals was replaced by an eerie silence as the Moon overtook the Sun, casting a shadow that plunged the land into darkness, sending temperatures dropping.

A partial eclipse was visible across much of Australia on Friday, with those at the Sydney Observatory watching the Moon take a "bite" out of the Sun.

"What we were able to see was a partial alignment, so at 7:50am this morning the moon slid partially between us and the Sun, kind of like a game of piggy-in-the-middle," said the observatory's Geoffrey Wyatt.

"The Moon blocked part of the Sun... and the tiny little bite got bigger and bigger and bigger as the Moon went between us."

In Sydney, at its maximum the Moon covered some 39 percent of the , but those in the north of the country saw it obscure much more, leaving the Moon surrounded by the thin band of bright sunlight.

The weather was clear for the partial eclipse, which could only be viewed safely through telescopes and binoculars fitted with solar filters.

"All chasers appreciate that it's always a lottery wherever you go," Wyatt said in regards to the weather, adding that their rarity was a drawcard.

"Partial solar eclipses, they are not common," he told AFP.

"The next that we get to see in Sydney is in July 2028, so that's a long way off."

Explore further: China to send orbiter to moon and back

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Solar eclipse to sweep across Australia, Pacific Islands

Apr 30, 2013

An annular eclipse of the Sun, when a ring of everyday Sun remains around the Moon's silhouette, will sweep across the Australian outback and into the Pacific Ocean on the morning of May 10, local time. Though ...

SDO observes Earth, lunar transits in same day

Mar 11, 2013

On March 2, 2013, NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) entered its semiannual eclipse season, a period of three weeks when Earth blocks its view of the sun for a period of time each day. On March 11, however, ...

Spacecraft capture solar eclipse's Earthly effect

Nov 16, 2012

A Japanese meteorology satellite captured the moving shadow from the total solar eclipse this week, and this animated series of images shows the shadow moving east-southeast across northeastern Australia ...

Southern hemisphere to glimpse year's last solar eclipse

Nov 24, 2011

The tip of South Africa, Tasmania and most of New Zealand will -- weather permitting -- enjoy a partial eclipse of the Sun on Friday although the handful of hardy scientists in Antarctica will get the best view, according ...

Prepare for a total solar eclipse

Nov 13, 2012

(Phys.org)—Tomorrow's total solar eclipse will only be visible in its entirety to ground-based observers watching from northern Australia, but ESA's Sun-watching Proba-2 satellite will have a ringside seat ...

Recommended for you

'Twisted rope' clue to dangerous solar storms

6 hours ago

A "twisted rope" of magnetically-charged energy precedes solar storms that have the potential to damage satellites and electricity grids, French scientists said on Wednesday.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

pdorrell
5 / 5 (1) May 11, 2013
And a story about an annular eclipse is illustrated by a "file photo" of an eclipse which is not an annular eclipse ...