Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Torches Not Required

New Zealand's stargazers will want fine weather today, to see a partial solar eclipse blot out up to 91% of the sun.
Solar Saros 133, the series of eclipses which last appeared almost two decades ago, is due to begin at 9.18am today over Auckland, reaching maximum coverage at 10.28am.
At its point of "maximum coverage", the sun would appear as a slim crescent - but will not have a significant effect on the amount of daylight.
Stardome's honorary astronomer, Grant Christie: "If you've got safe solar viewers, you'd see a bite out of the sun. The partial eclipse will gradually get bigger and bigger until it'll look like a crescent shape, a bit like a moon, so the sun won't be a circular disc any more - it'll be a sliver of itself."
Over Auckland, about 87% of the sun would be blocked out, compared with up to 91% in Northland but less than 60% in the far South Island.
Christie expects thousands of Kiwis from outside the astronomy community will be watching for the eclipse today: "You have to go back 20 years to see anything like it. And to see anything better you'd have to go back to 1965, when there was a total eclipse visible from NZ in the Far North."
Stargazers hope the weather will be good, but frankly, it's been a pretty cloudy spring...

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