The Partial Solar Eclipse as seen from Melbourne, on May 10 this year was once again well attended by the TiS schools. I think we can easily boast well over 1,000 students that viewed the eclipse that morning and I wanted to share with you some of the stories and photos of the day.
Firstly, this eclipse was an Annular Eclipse and the best place to see it was Tennent Creek in the Northern Territory. This type of eclipse provides the famed ‘ring of fire’. Here in Melbourne we saw a maximum coverage of 36% at around 9am, not enough to notice the daylight dim, but certainly plenty to be in awe about as we watched the Moon slowly make it’s way across the Sun. Want to know the difference between a Total Eclipse (like the one in last November) and an Annular Eclipse? Eclipse Chasers has the answers. Missed out on yet another eclipse? Here are the dates and locations for the next series of eclipses.
29 Apr 2014 Annular
9 Mar 2016 Total
13 Jul 2018 Partial only in southern Australia
26 Dec 2019 Annular
Unfortunately, none of these eclipses will be a maximum in Australia, so you may want to start planning a holiday and save up your plane fare. It does seem we have had a rather bumper crop of eclipses in Australia lately!
The first school I will take you to is Pascoe Vale Girls College. The science club there, ‘Rephract’ were responsible for organizing the event. They coordinated classes to come out and have a look, lists of students attending, photography and equipment, they even kept a close eye on the Solar glasses the students were using. An amazing effort and as a result hundreds of girls got to see the event and their teachers had a relaxing time of it too!
PhD student, Craig, was there to help out on the day and answer all those curly questions as the eclipse had certainly piqued their interest.
The Pascoe Vale Girls had the telescope out and the Solar glasses and were having a great time viewing the eclipse, but they also explored another method which proved quite popular. The girls had a colander and were using the small holes to project the Sun’s image onto some cardboard. It was like 50 pinhole cameras all at once. Thanks to Dr Duffy who suggested this at the last eclipse. The colander also made a good sunhat too apparently…
Northcote High School also had quite a few students come out and see the eclipse using the projection method with Dr Katie Mack and Michael the maintenance guy, who is a huge astronomy enthusiast. We even had a couple of dogs come by to see what was happening as dog walkers and joggers passed through the oval.
PhD student, Brad, and Dr Duffy headed out to Footscray City College to view the eclipse out there. Once again the students were able to look at the eclipse as they arrived at school. Hundreds of students looked through the telescope and the Solar glasses. Passers by on the street were encouraged to have a look, the youngest being a three year old. He was going to impress the kids at kinder that day! The construction workers were also regaled to come over and have a look, apparently they had to keep coming back out for more equipment or coffees and snuck in another look as they passed by. But that is only rumour…
McGuire College in Shepparton were finding it difficult to get around meetings so they could not get the telescope out, but determination, outside of box thinking and a bit of fresh air fixed that problem. Meeting venue was changed to the front steps of the school, the telescope was set up a few meters away and as a result, all the students and teachers got to view the eclipse on their way into school, as did the primary school students on their way past to the school next door and any other passersby. Oh, and don’t forget those having the meeting a few meters away, I am sure they got a look or two… Gisborne Secondary College also had hundreds of students view the eclipse. As the event was an hour later than last years, it meant that all the students in the school had a good opportunity to look at the Sun before they started school. It is hard to keep track of numbers on these days, but it was estimated over 350 students had a look! The Macedon Ranges Guardian came out as well and wrote up an article in the next week’s edition.
Suzanne Cory High School also had their telescope set up on the basketball court which attracted over half the school to come and have a look. Again we are talking hundreds of students witnessing this astronomical event and getting inspired about Science and Astronomy. Lastly, Masters student, Steph, and a few helpers, Jack, Patrick and Tristan, set up a telescope on the University of Melbourne grounds. Afterall, University students and staff are just as interested and deserving as High School students. They had quite a few people come by and take a look before their lectures started.
I just wanted to say, thank you to all the schools that got their telescopes out and organized the students to have a look. Thank you to the students who got involved and took the time out to have a look, I hope you know how lucky you are! A big thank you, also to all the Astro members who got up super early and helped out on the day, manning telescopes and answering questions. I know everyone in the program really appreciates your help and presence, especially me.