Solar Eclipse 2012 November 14
shadow first touched Earth at sunrise over Arnhem Land, Northern Territory,
before passing across the Gulf of Carpentaria then Cape York peninsula over Cairns and
Port Douglas before leaving the Australian continent for the Pacific Ocean. That
was the last landfall.
I was based in Port Douglas and was pretty much committed to
viewing the eclipse from there where duration of totality was just over two
minutes starting at 06:38h, a little more than an hour after sunrise. Chances of viewing
the eclipse turned into a lottery by the morning cloud patterns.
To improve mobility I decided to book a morning cruise on a catamaran that
departed Port Douglas Marina at 05:30h with 39 other passengers and a crew of
three on board - the lure of possibly having better conditions to see the
eclipse off the coast and having breakfast bobbing about on the Pacific Ocean
was quite attractive!
As we headed out we saw the sunrise and then the sun was hidden by large thick
clouds until a couple of minutes after first contact. The passage of the eclipse
was readily followed as the Sun made regular appearances through gaps in the
cloud. We lost the Sun to the clouds five minutes before totality, missed second
contact, but were aware that totality had occurred by the diminished light level
and I was in awe of the beautiful pastel quality of the Moon's umbral light
reflecting off the water all around us. Never giving up hope that we would be
rewarded, we were overjoyed when the eclipsed sun appeared in a little window of
clear sky with half of totality gone. All on board erupted in cheers and
clapping (and some woohooing, predominantly from me)!
We enjoyed seeing the pure pearly white, and dazzling, light of the corona
contrasting starkly with the deep blackness of the Moon's disk. Thinnish
clouds moved in again moments before third contact, but it was apparent through
the clouds that the diamond ring had gloriously sparkled. We next saw the sun
about a minute later as a very thin crescent, then, convinced that it was all
over, we retired below to tuck into the buffet breakfast.
We then headed back to shore well satisfied. A memorable and totally enjoyable
I had equipment on board to video the eclipse and, notwithstanding the roughly
one meter swell seriously affecting my framing of the spectacle, this was
achieved. Under the prevailing conditions I discarded all notions of capturing
high quality footage.....but, I actually had a lot of fun trying to keep the
eclipse in the field of my full frame digital camera and 500mm prime lens (and
trying to keep them on board the rocking boat)!
Reports from observers at Port Douglas give an indication of how fickle the
weather wheel of fortune span - observers at one end of Four Mile beach were clouded
out at the critical time, whilst those at the other end saw all of totality.
It was a tremendous, and literally moving, experience sharing an event with this
select group of like-minded people that will not be repeated in Northern
Queensland for a long, long time.