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The Great Oz Eclipse of November 2012  
by Joe Cali

Eclipse Observations from Trinity Beach

Weather forecasts recommended against observing from all coastal areas.  

This forecast for Port Douglas basically applied to the entire coastal strip.

"The morning will be partly cloudy with a brief shower or two drifting over the Port Douglas region but most of the time conditions will remain fine.  Expect between 3/8ths and 5/8ths cloud cover in the sky during the morning.  Cloud cover will fluctuate through the passing of nearby showers during the morning so there will be some views of the eclipse – however expect approximately 30-50% of the eclipse to be seen over this region with the current forecast cloud cover.  The chance of at least a shower between 5am and 8am is around 60%."

Nonetheless some did not want to upset their children's sleep cycles (or their own) so they took their chances and stayed at Trinity Beach a 10 minute walk from our accommodation base at Marlin Cove Resort.

People who stayed at Trinity Beach included Andrew Wilson  Andrea Wilson  Brad Wilson  Cassie Wilson  Luke Wilson, Kerrie Holmes,  Marie Holmes,  Tomas Francis  Liam Francis, Arnold Orange  Margit Orange, Alina Onica  Geanina Beldea,  Ioana Beldea, Dave Allan and family.

They observed the eclipse including some of totality through breaks in the cloud.   About half of totality observed through a clearing in the clouds. The journal  entries of the Wilson children and Brad's drawings are reproduced with permission below.

Wednesday 14th November, 2012
By Luke Wilson – 8 years old.
Today we got up at 4:30am.  We first went to Trinity Beach to see the Total Solar Eclipse.  We had to wear special glasses to see the different partial eclipses.  When it was totality it looked like a diamond ring.  After the eclipse we went to Hartley’s Crocodile farm.  

Wednesday 14th November, 2012
By Cassie Wilson – 10 years old.
Today I was really EXCITED because today was the day that the Eclipse was happening.  It was a Total Solar Eclipse, not just a partial eclipse.

A Total Eclipse is something when the moon goes across the sun and you can only see it from certain parts of the world.  When the moon goes totally in front of the sun it is called totality.  A partial Eclipse is when there is no totality.

So, today we went down to Trinity Beach at 4:30am in the morning to see the eclipse.  It was a bit cloudy on the eclipse morning, but it was fine.

The moon moved slooooowwwwwllllyyyyy across the sun, then finally it was totality.  It stayed totality for 2 minutes, then it went across the other side of the sun.  The eclipse was REALLY AWESOME!!!!

Left: Partial eclipse begins just after sunrise.                                                                                       Right:  The Wilsons enjoying the eclipse at Trinity beach near the shelter

Eclipse Day - Wednesday 14th November, 2012
By Brad Wilson – 12 years old.
This morning I got up very early to go see the Solar Eclipse  I got up at 4:38am Queensland time to see the sun rise.  We walked down to the beach and sat on the sand to watch it.  It was getting to be high tide when the sun rose.  It was a lovely sunrise.  At that point we put our eclipse glasses on so we could safely view the sun.  It looked like an orange circle through the black plastic lenses.  It was quite cloudy at that time, so the sun kept on going behind the clouds.  One time when it came out from behind a cloud, it was not a full sun.  A tiny sliver of it had been taken out by a dark moon.  Over the next ¾ of an hour, the moon very gradually covered the sun.  As always,  it kept going in and out of the clouds.  Suddenly, in about 10 seconds it went very dark and you could see lots of the stars again.  This was the stage called totality.  This is where the moon covers the sun completely and the sun’s corona, not usually visible to the naked eye, for it is too bright to see, is visible as a white outline around the moon.

Once totality finished, we watched the partial stages again, but opposite.  There was no cloud for this part,  then we went back to the resort.

Kerrie Holmes sets up one of the AAQ solarscopes before dawn at Trinity Beach. Her two sons Liam left and Tomas right munching on cookies as they wait for the sun to rise.

Dave Allan's daughter took this picture at Trinity Beach as the totally eclipsed Sun broke through cloud about a minute into totality.

Total Solar Eclipse by Tomas Francis (11)

Mum, Nan, Liam and I got up early before the sun was up.  We walked down to Trinity Beach got set up, ate biscuits, drank water and watched the sunrise.  There was cloud during part of the eclipse.  When we put on the eclipse glasses we could see the orange sun with blackness coming over it. When the sun was completely covered the sky was dark like at sunset.  The moon looked black but you could see the white atmosphere of the sun behind it.  Lots of people cheered.  The cloud kept going across the sun.  Then the sun shone on the edge of the moon.  We looked through the eclipse glasses again and watched the moon moving away.  I looked at the projection of the sun Mum had made with a telescope on  cardboard - it was amazing!  Liam and I played in the sand before we went back to eat breakfast.

At the Port Douglas Observing Site

Despite the unfavourable forecast, many members of the  Astronomical Society of Victoria decided to take their chances at the Port Douglas site anyway as did NZ astronomer John Burt's Group, Henrik Glintborg's Corona Adventure Tour Group and the Twilight Tours Group led by JoelHarris. Their reasons varied.  The tour groups were locked into inflexible bus contracts and unable to move despite wanting to. There were numerous others at the site includung Julian West of the AAQ.  

Nobody in my tour group went to Port Douglas.  My group divided up between the flight to Edward River, Trinity Beach, Mareeba and Maitland Downs.  

Two of the other tour groups who had registered for Port Douglas went there due to the fact that their bus contracts didn't allow enough flexibility.  Some smaller groups and individuals did not want to travel inland and tried their luck at Port Douglas.

Henrik Glintborg       Corona Adventure
The Danish Corona Adventure group of 74 people standing on a field outside Port Douglas had - regarding that 50 % of the sky was covered with clouds - great success observing totality between two cloud banks.
We saw totality and a beautiful diamond ring at 3rd. contact. The event was - as always - celebrated with lots of French champagne :-)
Venlig hilsen/Sincerely
Henrik Glintborg      
Corona Adventure

Joel Harris   Twilight tours 
Report from the Port Douglas Ultra Light airfield:
Saw part of totality, with about 35% of the eclipsed disc visible above the cloud bank which hid the rest of the event...
Hope others saw more of it than we all did.
Joel Harris

Linda Richmond    Astronomical Society of Victoria

Hi Joe,
Just a quick email to say thank you for all the effort you put into making the eclipse viewing a special event for us.  The site was great and Grace was very helpful.
Some of our people went to the inland area you mentioned and got some fantastic photos.
Thank you once again for all your work.

As you can see there is quite a discrepancy between these accounts.  Property owners Sam and Grace Cavallaro reported seeing it albeit briefly.  All observers were in a relatively small area 100 x 100 metres we had to keep a minimum safety distance from the helicopter operations to remain within CASA guidelines.  The ultralight operations shut down and the helicopters used the far east end of the airfield and use a north approach for a taxi way while observers used the far west end of the field where they did look through the helicopters lifting off at dawn but otherwise had a < 0.5 degree horizon from sunrise onwards.

I can't explain the differences between the reports unless there were some very localized clearances being observed on parts of the airfield.  

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Home Page ..............Index of other eclipse reports
Personal logs
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