Alex - Shepparton

The 2012 Eclipse

Last Wednesday, Australia experienced a Total Solar Eclipse. If you were lucky enough to be in Cairns, you would have experienced totality. One of our Astro PhD students and TiS volunteers, Jenny, was lucky enough to be there in person and got some amazing photos.

For the rest of us in Melbourne we experienced about 50% Partial Eclipse and in TiS style, we made a day of it!

Alex - Shepparton

Photo taken by Year 11 Student Alex Claney from McGuire College with Nikon DSLR attached to the 12″ Meade telescope.

You have already heard about McGuire College expecting the local newspaper and they ended up getting the full media treatment. You can see the article and the YouTube video. The cameraman even took over the telescope to connect up their own camera and get a picture of the Moon passing over the Sun. Our budding astrophotographer, Alex Claney, fronted up again the next morning and took some spectacular images of the Eclipse with the school’s Nikon D3000 attached to the telescope. Even the Astrophysicists at The University of Melbourne’s School of Physics agreed these were quality images! Stay tuned for his own post on just how he got this image.

Brad and I were out at Footscray City College bright and early with an array of cameras and the telescope helping Adam and student teacher James set up for the morning’s viewing.

Instant Digital

The Eclipse taken with my Canon Ixus through the 40mm eyepiece on the telescope.

Footscray City Eclipse

Students from Footscray City watching the eclipse with the telescope in the background.

Well before 7am, the students were arriving for their first glimpse of the Sun and were keen to help out in any way they could. Having set up in the courtyard in front of the school, ensured pretty much everyone got the chance to have a quick look before they headed into school.

Brad spent most of the time taking stills of the sun with a video camera and a Baader filter with a little help from a student, Tahl Persall. They got a great time lapse view of the event, which we will be posting in the near future. But here is one for now.

Video Footscray Early

Still taken with video camera through the filter of the Sun taken by Astro student Brad Greig

I also took some photos of the Sun in the sky to see what effect the partial eclipse had on the brightness of the day. Given it happened over two hours, there was no noticeable difference to the bystander. But judge for yourself as to what the camera saw. The first was taken at 7:25am, just after the eclipse started in Melbourne. The second one was taken at 7:57am around the maximum coverage time. Later in the day, but clearly(?) darker. I did have the camera set to manual, so the exposure times were exactly the same.

view comparison

Comparison of the sky during the eclipse. The left hand image was taken at 7:25am and the right-hand image was taken at 7:57am.

These comments from Dev, a student at Footscray City College:

“Yesterday we got to school early so we could see the solar eclipse. We got to school about 6.30am and Adam was already setting up the telescope with the lady from the University (Jacinta). I had been watching the eclipse on the tv from Queensland and was surprised that it hadn’t started yet but they told me it would start soon.

We wore special glasses to protect our eyes and we could also look through the telescope. We could see the sunspots on the Sun and Brad told us that some of them were bigger than the whole Earth. They actually looked like specks of dust. It was amazing once the moon started to block out the Sun although I thought it would get darker but it didn’t change at all.” Devpriya Peiris THAHANAPPU HETTIARACHIGE

PVGC Phone

This image was taken by Year 11 Student Monica Delos Santos from Pascoe Vale Girls College with her phone.

Dr Duffy (Alan) went to Pascoe Vale Girls College for the morning where he gave a brief talk on the eclipse and helped and chatted with over 100 girls and 30 staff members as they looked at the Eclipse.

PVGC group

The girls from Pascoe Vale Girls College watching the Eclipse with Dr Duffy in the background.

There were even a few Year 12 Physics girls who took some time out from their exam prep to view the eclipse right before they were due to sit the actual Physics exam. Amazing effort girls and we hope the eclipse inspired you to greatness during the exam.

Monica, who took the photo with her phone, had this to say;

“It was a truly worthwhile experience that we enjoyed. We all benefited from the experience as we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to see the eclipse like we did anywhere else. It was interesting for everyone – even for those who don’t study Physics or Science. Having the telescope at our school allows us to widen our range of opportunities in the astronomy field. We all had great fun watching the eclipse and we enjoy every viewing night!” Monica Delos Santos Year 11

Gisborne projector

Image of the Sun at Gisborne using the projection method

Gisborne Secondary College also had a great viewing session, but unfortunately as most of the students arrived via bus, most of the students didn’t get to see the eclipse until almost the end. Next time we will see if we can put the eclipse on a bit later… or talk to the bus company?

Gisborne group

The staff and students at Gisborne SC viewing the Eclipse

Regardless, there were still quite a few astro enthusiasts early and eager who got to experience the whole event, including these year 8 students;

“We arrived early at our school to witness a partial solar eclipse. The teachers had set up a telescope that let us view the sun, however due to problems with the filter, we ended up using a projection method. We used glasses made of a polymer to view the eclipse safely. During the eclipse the sun was regularly described as ‘Pac man’ by students. For us, avid astronomers, this was a very exciting event, and we hope to witness a total solar eclipse in our lifetime.” Mitchell and Brandon Yr 8

Pinhole Eclipse

Taken by Bruce Drummond of the Sun’s image projected by a Pinhole camera.

Suzanne Cory High School got out their solar glasses to observe the eclipse, if you were early enough as it clouded over Werribee for the later part. Teacher, Bruce Drummond, did manage to get his pinhole camera out though to project this fantastic image.

To sum up the day, we had hundreds of students, well over 50 teachers, parents and siblings and even passers by have a look at the eclipse. Many, many fantastic photos taken on phones, video cameras, DSLRs, instant digital cameras. So many, I can’t possibly show them all to you, so head to the Eclipse Gallery to see even more! We had all sorts of viewing methods; Using the 12″ telescope with special Solar filter, projection from the telescope, zoomed in video stills through a filter, Solar glasses and a pinhole camera. I have a feeling, we pretty much covered the entire gambit of Solar observing in just 2 small hours. The day was certainly full of atmosphere, anticipation and a huge WOW factor. Now we just have to wait until 2028 before the next Total Eclipse will occur in Australia. I have a feeling that just a few more Umbraphiles were created last week, already saving their pocket money so they can travel to and experience totality for themselves.

2 comments on “The 2012 Eclipse

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