Great Oz Eclipse of November 2012
by Joe Cali
Escape to the Atherton Tablelands
This picture (above) by Rick Stevenson of site 3A at Maitland Downs
Downs Site 3A "Cow Manure Paddock"
recommendation was for people to travel inland to site 3A if possible.
I practice what I preach
and hence this is where I went.
Bengt had been very sick in the weeks before the trip and so I
left him to sleep while my cousin Anton and I disassembled the
telescopes and loaded the car. Bengt, Anton and I departed the resort
at Trinity Beach at 12:30 am Wednesday morning. I drove up the
coast road which was almost deserted to Port Douglas. I called
into the site just to check on activity. The property owners were
going to get up at 3am. No surprise, the site was almost
deserted. Most people were due to arrive after 3am. I drove up to
Jullaten and to Mt Molloy arriving at 1:30am. I drove into town,
pulled up, logged in on the computer and received the final weather
update from the meteorologist. It was basically the same as the
earlier predictions, the meteorologist issued a prediction for 90% +
chance of clear sky at the Maitland Downs sites.
morning will be fine and overall skies are expected to be mostly
clear. Some brief cloud cover will remain a possibility but the
size of the clouds should remain quite small and clear conditions
should dominate. Between 0/8ths and 1/8ths cloud cover is
expected during the morning. Around 90%+ of the eclipse is
expected to be able to be seen from the estimated cloud cover
expected. The chance of rainfall is close to 0% while winds will
be E/SE at 10-15 knots with an estimated temperature of 20C."
I forwarded the email to the observing site subscribers and pushed on.
We arrived at Mt Carbine and I zeroed the trip meter. Our site
was 65km past the Mt Carbine hotel. We covered about half the distance
and I found a quiet spot to pull off the road. I figured there
would be no rest once we arrived at the site and I could feel the
fatigue weighing on me. I pulled up switched off the engine and put
on the hand brake. My eyelids were heavy and I began to lapse
into a much needed nap.
Suddenly Bengt blurted out, "The car is still moving!" I woke with a
start and slammed my foot on the brake. My heart was racing. The car
did not jerk to a halt, we were stationary. I checked the handbrake, it
was on and the car's auto transmission was in park gear. Bengt
meant to indicate that he had white line fever and felt as though the car was in
motion but something was lost in translation. Nonetheless, I was wide awake now, adrenaline has a funny way of waking you up like that. So I started the car and continued on reaching the site
some 20 - 25 minutes later.
There were many cars and people were already set up at the site by the time we arrived. I
was concerned at first until I got out of the car and realized that
they were almost all from our consortium. The site had a 9o horizon
which was not ideal. It was however high enough to scare off
most casual passers-by looking for a place to set up. This meant
our large group was able to roll in a few hours before totality.
all obvious places, admittedly better sites, were fully occupied, this
site was empty and our large group was able to roll in and casually
occupy it without
worrying about competition or feeling like we were intruding on a space
someone had been minding for days. No sight of the property owners
It was a large open
paddock, admittedly with some cow pats on the ground and deep hoof
imprints made walking in the dark a bit of an adventure. However first
light revealed a beautiful stand of ghost gums that had attracted me to
the site during survey but that I hadn't really mentioned in briefings. So
first light hit, people on site were pleasantly surprised and taken
with the surrounds. Some came up and commented on this to me after the eclipse.
Jay Friedland with Leila & Benno Friedland in the background. Jay last came to
Australia almost exactly
ten years ago as a member of our Cameron Corner
expedition to see the 4th December, 2002 total eclipse.
Steven Shaw's dramatic coronal composite. This was Steve's first
eclipse and first attempt at any sort of astronomical imaging.
He made exposures over approximately 14 stops of exposure taking and averaging 4 frames at each exposure level.
He didn't have any reference and worked out he radial stitching,
averaging and sharpening in isolation. I was amazed when he
showed it to me just before Christmas
Yikes! Imagine what he'll produce at future eclipses.
At least thirty one, almost a third of our Trinity Beach Marlin Cove Resort Group traveled to this site making it the
biggest single destination for the group based at Trinity Beach.
Persons present included : -
Joe Cali, Bengt
Alfredsson, Anton Pulvirenti
From the larger observing site consortium : -
Schneider, Joel Moskowitz, Steve Kolodny
Geoff and Jill Shaw
Bill Hall and
Michelle Bales, Sue Jones
Bob and Elisabeth Slobins
Jeff, Chad and
Denni and Jamie Lanc
Jay, Melissa & Beno Friedland
Matthew Poulton and Aaron Brown
Kristen Wollams and Peter Richardson
Chris Cox, Joshua Cox, Allan Clancy,
Carol Eden, Catalin Fus, Georg Lenzen
Rick and June Stevenson, David Trappert
& party (NZ)
A number of ASV
members including Mark Sansom
A handful of others arrived as well : -
(Ireland) and his student group
and his Finish
Astronomer bus group (44 pax) who subscribed to weather updates only and landed upon our site by accident.
As twilight broke, I looked at where people were set up and applying the 6.8o magnetic correction, I realized that a number of observers had lined up in the dark on the
tall tree that can be seen at the far right of Glenn Schneider's photo
below. I went around warning those observers that they were lined up on
the very tall tree which would obscure totality. Most had lightweight
equatorial mountings or simple tripods and I cleared a swathe through
the group to avoid this obstacle. They had plenty of time to
cloud cover predicted
"iffy" for the coast a number of us who preplanned to observe from near
opted instead for a midnight 3-hour inland "escape" to -16
14 30 N, 144 43 33 observing from a Cow Paddock
~ 66 km NW of Mt.
Carbine. Beautiful clear skies with just the very faintest
wisps occasionally of
cloud. A gorgeous solar corona with a huge
diversity of prominences visible throughout. Just back to our
Base beach a very short while ago.
Many thanks to Joe Cali for his diligence in logistical arrangements on
Glenn's full report and photo's : -
by Glenn Schneider
with Joel Moskowitz, Matthew Poulton, Steve Kolodny,
Melissa & Beno Friedland, Bengt Alfredsson and MANY more (Joe,
of course) whom I am sure will say much more.
can't begin to thank Joe
for all his work on this eclipse. He contributed hugely to my first
trip leading some
of my school kids. His work and preparation were
incredible. My students couldn't believe the time and effort
put in. Thanks also to all the eclipse-chasers we met along the way and
observed with in Maitland
Downs. It was fantastic meeting you all again."
Jill Shaw was everywhere. She took
some pictures of the action at the top of the hill where the 44 Finnish
astronomers had set up.........
and she also took some shots down in the paddock. Above left Steve
Baldwin packing up after the eclipse by Jill Shaw. Above right, Dave Bassett's
photo montage of different phases of the eclipse.
Shaw(above left) lines up to take the stunning composite at the top of the page.
Joel Moskowitz (center) recites the Jewish prayer
"Shehecheyanu" in English
transliteration, not sure if the Hebrew will display correctly -->
The Shehecheyanu is a blessing for special occasions that is
recited when one experiences a rare, new, unusual and or infrequent
life events that gives one great pleasure. From left to right Steve Kolodny, Glenn Schneider, unrecognized person behind Glenn, Joe
Cali, Joel front, Steven Shaw and Bengt Alfredsson.
Page 7 of 9 < PREVIOUS NEXT >
Home Page ..............Index of other eclipse reports
1. Introduction, Preparations and tour structure
2. The final eight weeks before the eclipse
3. Eclipse Week
Observation / Activity Reports
4. Stratospheric Balloon flight
5. Observations from Trinity Beach and Port Douglas
6. Inland Escape - Mareeba - Mt Molloy
7. Inland Escape Maitland Downs - Cow Manure Paddock - Site 3A
8. Inland Escape Maitland Downs - Road Camp - Site 3B
9. Escape flight to the Gulf of Carpentaria