On the 14th November 2012 the city of Cairns in northern Queensland Australia was calculated to be in the centre of the great shadow cast by the moon as it eclipses the sun early in the morning.
Thousands of professional and amateur astronomers from Australia and around the world flocked to Cairns and its surroundings to prepare for what was going to be an extraordinary natural wonder.
Most spectators arrived a few days early and lined the coastline in camper vans and tents. Many others stayed in hotels and motels around the coast. All trying to secure a decent vantage point, the only thing that was going to get in their way would be those damn rain clouds, note: November in Cairns is the start of the Cyclone Season.
As for my family and I, we secured a chartered yacht that was setting out to sea in the early hours of the morning, heading out 40km somewhere near the Great Barrier Reef.
Morning came and we boarded our ride, a bumpy 50 minute trip to the reef and we set anchor just before sunrise. We were in luck, while on the coast the clouds were thick and many, we had great big patches of clear skies!
The rest is hard to put into words and the photos I took do not do it justice, all I can say is that if you ever have an opportuity to see a Total Solar Eclipse, do it. It is something wonderful and unforgettable.
The sun slowly creeps up over the horizon and low-lying clouds.
This is the first contact of the Moon with the Sun, in the zoomed window you can just see the edge of the sun (left) being clipped by the moon.
Now it is starting to look quite obvious.
This is moments before Totality i.e. When the Sun is completely eclipsed by the moon. Even at this stage it is still dangerous to look directly at the sun, the small portion of sun that is visible is still very bright and capable of damaging your eyes.
Totality! Now it is safe to remove your protective eyewear and stare at the Eclipse. The only word that could come out of my mouth was “wow, wow, wow” – This lasted for approximately 2 minutes as the moon continued to travel across the sun.
A split second after the moon began to cross the other side of the sun, or in astronomical terms ‘3rd Contact’. This photo almost captures the essence of totality, as you can see the sun is up and it should be day, but with the moon in front of it, the shadow cast almost makes it look like night.
And to top it off, on the flight back home later that day I captured the sun setting over the western horizon. Truly an unforgetable experience.