A phenomenon that can only occur during a new moon, when the sun and moon are in conjunct with the earth, a total solar eclipse is a rare and spectacular event that was last seen in Australia in 2002.
Now the time has come again, as on November 14 at 6:39am, the great cosmic shadow of solar eclipse 2012 will descend upon Australia, targeting the top of Cape York before similarly casting Cairns and Port Douglas into morning obscurity.
In the first stage of the eclipse the moon will slowly smother the sun, which will take around an hour. In the second stage, an ominous dark shadow will rise from the west and reduce the sun to a thin crescent. Here the temperature will drop significantly before the sun’s rays shine through valleys on the moon, creating a scintillating display known as Baily’s Beads.
Here beads of light are reduced to a single point, making the sun appear like a glistening diamond. As the last of these rays are extinguished, the sun’s pink upper surface (called the chromosphere) can be seen around the edges of the moon. The sky will then take on an etheric appearance, as ionised gas from the sun will wave outwards while the moon will resemble a black hole surrounded by a misty halo.
Total solar eclipses such as this have incited passion and superstition throughout the ages. As Greek historian Herodotus wrote an eclipse was predicted during a war between the Medians and Lydians, with its occurrence making both sides put their weapons aside and declare peace.
However, far from inciting superstition, the solar eclipse 2012 has attracted tourist events along with all manner of adventure seekers.
The prime viewing spot for the eclipse will be at the doorstep of Thala, on Oak Beach, just south of Port Douglas. The shadow of the total solar eclipse will pass directly over Thala Beach Lodge.
Johan Klindt, manager of Thala, is expecting a stampede of onlookers on Oak Beach. Thala’s reservations have been flooded with enquiries from all over the world for the last two to three years.
Besides Thala, which will hold the best viewing spot for solar eclipse 2012, you can be a part of it all at the Solar Eclipse Festival, situated inland from Port Douglas, which will feature music, art and workshops.
In Port Douglas itself you’ll find family orientated events, as well as a Solar Eclipse Marathon for those expecting extra bursts of energy to come from this rare and significant astrological event.