[Total Solar Eclipse: 2023]
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The 2023 Eclipse
This broke up the journey to New Zealand where we spent two months exploring both islands. We saw whales, albatrosses, penguins, snow capped mountains, thermal sites, Maori culture, art deco buildings and fjords.
Changgyeongung Palace in Seoul
Maori culture in New Zealand
Hobbiton (Lord of the Rings)
Sperm whale at Kaikoura
Aoraki / Mount Cook
This was our second visit to Australia after seeing the 2012 eclipse in Cairns.
We visited places that we had missed last time: Tasmania, Melbourne and Perth.
View from Mount Nelson
Wallaby in Mount Field NP
It was a long and tiring 1673km drive to Exmouth from Perth. On the way we visited natural and historical sites including two national parks.
One of the highlights was visiting the Gwoonwardu Mia cultural centre in Carnarvon. I joined in the nightly star gazing sessions showing people the upside down Leo while they pointed out The Emu. Story telling is an important part of local culture and I was privaliged to be part of that.
The Pinnacles (Nambung NP)
Stromatolites at Lake Thetis
Nature's Window (Kalbari NP)
Gwoonwardu Mia cultural centre
We got ready and walked across to the Visitor Centre for breakfast. It was just the two of us. After several days of socialising with eclipse chasers from around the world, talking to people about the eclipse and doing media interviews for Australian TV and radio, we were enjoying a little quiet time together.
The newly set up free shuttle bus took us to Town Beach, about 2km from the town centre of Exmouth. We found a sheltered picnic area close to the base of 6PR Radio and set ourselves up. We were joined by a family from Perth who had little idea of what they were about to see. Nearby were families, groups of friends, workers on their day off, a family of Sikhs and eclipse chasers from Iran.
I did an interview for 6PR Radio (my second) and was asked what I thought the kangaroos would do as it got dark. After seeing more dead kangaroos than live on the drive from Perth: "They'll probably jump out in front of cars!", I quipped. The presenter later admitted that the eclipse had made him cry.
I was also interviewed for Outback magazine. But once the eclipse began, there were no more interviews.
First Contact, the beginning of the partial eclipse, was at 10:04am. We could see the small bite at the top after a few minutes. Between then and around 11am, we watched the Sun slowly being covered by the Moon but unless you knew an eclipse was happening there were no visible effects.
The 20 or so minutes before the full eclipse was dominated by a loss of brightness in the sky, a weakened and more golden Sun and a fall in temperature. Shadows became sharper as the light of the Sun was coming from a smaller area.
The sky turned an intense navy blue colour indicating the approach of the Moon's shadow, travelling at 769 metres per second.
Then a lovely golden diamond ring at the bottom of the Sun and a dramatic drop in light levels marked the start of totality.
We had one minute to savour a bright corona dotted with pink flames. Jupiter was shining above the Sun and to its left. To the right and far below we could see the brilliant Venus.
Two planets and a beautiful eclipsed Sun with a very bright and colourful corona. Three years of planning and a drive of 1673km had been worth it.
All too quickly the 59 precious seconds of totality were over and a second diamond ring appeared (this time at the top), lighting up the landscape.
I had told people what to expect and what to look for. I had done radio and TV interviews describing what would happen. Now they would have seen for themselves.
The total phase had passed. Over the sea the navy blue sky showed us where the Moon's shadow was heading Northwards to East Timor and Irian Jaya (Indonesia).
Still more interviews as Tracy Vo from Channel 7 and Sunrise (Channel 9) came to ask me how the eclipse had gone. Their smiles told me that they now understood why eclipse chasers travel around the world for a few seconds or minutes of totality.
We never did sleep in the camper van again. A room had become available. The perfect ending to a perfect day.
We spent a few days in Perth meeting up with fellow eclipse chasers before flying to Adelaide to visit relatives.
Our final stop was Singapore where we did some sightseeing and enjoyed the multicultural food on offer.
Bark paintings (Adelaide)
Marina sands and Skypark
South Indian mosque
Photos of whale diving, Jupiter and the eclipsed Sun.
Ningaloo Caravan Park
For looking after us, a pair of reluctant campers whose idea of the "great outdoors" is the walk from the house to the tube station.
For the camper van that got us from Perth to Exmouth (a return trip of 2978km).
Gwoonwardu Mia Cultural Centre (Carnarvon)
For allowing us to join them in story telling about the stars during their nightly star gazing meetings.
For the minted eclipse coin.
The Kalli Family
For their hospitality in Perth.
The Costi Family
For their post-eclipse hospitality in Adelaide.
Cousin (1951 - 2020).
Mother (1930 - 2020).
Cousin (1942 - 2020).
Maternal Aunt (1923 - 2020).
Cousin (1947 - 2021).
Sister (1961 - 2022).
Paternal Aunt (1928 - 2022).
School Friend / Best Man / 3 Eclipses (1954 - 2022).
We were informed of his death on the morning we began this trip.
John was at the following eclipses with us: Mexico 1991, Chile 1994, England 1999.
Maternal Aunt (1927 - 2023).
Paternal Aunt (1934 - 2023).
Paternal Aunt (1937 - 2023).
Friend / 2 Eclipses (1941 - 2023).
We were informed of his death on our return to London.
Peter was at the following eclipses with us: Botswana 2002, Turkey 2006.