Friday 10th May 2013, 8.45am (day 624)
I wanted to visit the tropical north of Queensland anyway, and Cooktown, and the experience of driving through the emptiness of the region, made it worth doing: but there was a reason to do it at this specific period of time, and here it is. I did not manage to penetrate the zone of totality due to not having a 4WD vehicle, so this picture is taken from Laura, a one-horse town west of Cooktown, where the tarmac ends — this was the closest I could get, but we are not at full coverage as you can see. However, in some ways, just as well I stopped where I did because I ended up watching it in the company of a group of Russians who happened to have a pair of solar viewing glasses that could then be used as a filter on the camera, as well as for our eyes. Without them it would not have been possible to capture it.
Anyway, despite all that, and the time and effort it took to see what was really just a few minutes of dimness, I’m glad I did. And there probably won’t be many other non-astronomer pictures of this event. I doubt many people in the world saw this. Its path certainly didn’t cross anywhere particularly populated, just the remote north of Australia and some islands in the South Pacific. Even round here there seemed general ignorance that it was happening: I think largely because they had a total eclipse last November, and this was ‘just’ an annular one, where the moon is at its furthest point from Earth so doesn’t cover the sun’s disk entirely. Nevertheless, let’s not be blasé about it: do you realise how rare eclipses might be, I mean, in the universe? The fact that the Sun and Moon are virtually the same apparent size when viewed from the Earth is really a remarkable coincidence. It’s possible we’re the only planet for thousands of light years in any direction that experiences them, so let’s treasure them.