In just a matter of hours, Australians will have a chance to witness a rare total solar eclipse. The sun, which usually provides us with warmth and light, will be transformed into a mere halo as the moon passes between it and the earth, blocking it from view. The phenomenon of a solar eclipse occurs when the sun, moon, and earth are in perfect alignment, casting a shadow on the earth's surface.
The best place on earth to witness this celestial event will be in Exmouth on Western Australia's Coral Coast. This small town has been overwhelmed with eclipse hunters, with around 20,000 people rushing to secure their spot halfway between Perth and Broome. The area has been preparing for years to handle the influx of visitors, and an observation platform has been erected.
Exmouth Shire Council President Darlene Allston said the region is well-prepared to deliver a safe event for all visitors. She added that special-purpose solar eclipse glasses would be handed out to eclipse gazers.
"We have done all we can do to sort of deliver the safe event for all of the people that have travelled here today," Allston said. "So it is going to be busy here, and certainly all eyes I suppose will be on Exmouth for that 62 seconds of darkness today."
Dr Karl Kruszelnicki said Australians were "lucky" to witness the event. "It is actually a hybrid eclipse," he explained. "So for part of the eclipse, it will be a total eclipse. For part of it will be a ring depending on where you are. It is lovely to see the fingernail moon. The universe is giving us something for free. We are lucky."
However, Kruszelnicki added that staring directly at the sun is not recommended, as even a brief glimpse can cause eye damage. Eclipse gazers are urged to use special-purpose "eclipse glasses" or hand-held solar viewers that meet international standards. Alternatively, a pinhole projection through a large card can be used. This type of viewer can be easily made at home.
The eclipse is expected to start at different times depending on the viewer's location. In Exmouth, the partial eclipse is set to begin at 10:04 AM (AWST), with totality - when the sun is blocked by the moon - beginning around 11:29 AM. Totality will last about a minute.
A total solar eclipse is a rare and awe-inspiring phenomenon that should not be missed. It's a chance for people to witness the beauty and power of the universe and appreciate the intricate workings of the cosmos. While it's important to take precautions when viewing the eclipse, it's also important to remember to enjoy the experience and be grateful for the opportunity to witness such an event.