Total Solar Eclipse 2012 November 14

The Moon's umbral 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 experience. 
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. 


Sunrise on eclipse day as I journeyed on the catamaran out of Port Douglas

About five minutes in; first view of the eclipse through the cloud

About 30 minutes in; halfway to totality

About eight minutes to totality

Totality; the best single frame from the video

Prominences and some corona; stack of a few short exposed frames from the video

A minute after third contact, a thin crescent pokes through the clouds


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