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Stunning solar eclipse visible over NZ 14/11/12

MEDIA RELEASE

2 November 2012

Stunning solar eclipse soon visible over New Zealand

On the morning of the 14th November 2012 all of New Zealand will be treated to a fine partial eclipse of the Sun. An eclipse of the Sun occurs when the Moon passes directly between Earth and the Sun casting a shadow on the Earth.

For this eclipse, the further north you are in New Zealand, the more the Sun will appear to be covered by the Moon. From Auckland, maximum obscuration (coverage) will reach 87% and the Sun will appear as a brilliant bright crescent. In the far south of the country the obscuration will still reach a respectable 57% while the greatest coverage of the Sun will be seen from Northland's east coast where it will reach nearly 91%. The next eclipse with this amount of obscuration seen from New Zealand will not occur until 2028 and Auckland will not see a better solar eclipse until 2035.

The shadow of the Moon creates a 180km wide path of totality that travels from west to east across the Pacific, starting in northern Australia and passing about midway between New Zealand and New Caledonia. It continues eastward finishing just before reaching the coast of Chile. Norfolk Island is located right on the edge of totality with 98% obscuration. The northern parts of Australia are the only land areas that experience the total eclipse. Thousands of keen eclipse enthusiasts will be congregating in Queensland while others will be viewing the eclipse from cruise liners and aircraft positioned along the path of totality across the Pacific.

Stardome’s honorary astronomer, Dr Grant Christie, said ,"Solar eclipses don't happen every New Moon because the Moon's orbit about Earth is tilted by about 5 degrees relative to the Earth's orbit around the Sun. In most months the New Moon passes above or below the Sun so no eclipse occurs. But an eclipse will occur when the Moon happens to cross the plane of Earth's orbit close to times of New Moon."

From Auckland, the partial eclipse will start at 9.18am reaching maximum coverage at 10:28am and ending at 11.44am. These times will vary at a bit at other centres.

The Stardome at One Tree Hill will be open to the public on the morning of 14 November providing safe viewing of the eclipse through the special telescopes. For a gold coin donation visitors will be able to watch a short movie about solar eclipses in the impressive 360 degree planetarium theatre at Stardome.

Viewing the Sun directly without a safe solar viewer is very dangerous and can cause permanent blindness. Stardome is selling certified safe solar viewers via its shop and online shop and will have them for sale on the day. There won't be another chance to see an eclipse like this for another 16 years so, have your safe solar viewers at the ready and, if you get the chance, head to Stardome - Auckland’s home for observing the skies.

Find out more at the Stardome website www.stardome.org.nz

ENDS


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