Annular Solar Eclipse 2013 May 10
The magnitude of this eclipse was 0.95 with a track similar to that of the 2012 November 14 solar eclipse. To have two "total" eclipses (that is, where the moon was totally centred on the Sun) in the one area within six months was something special. And to see both was something even more special!
My research indicated that, at a location on the Stuart Highway about 80km north of Tennant Creek, Northern Territory, the moon would pass centrally across the Sun providing a dramatic example of the "ring of fire" with roughly 4 minutes of annularity. So it was a flight to Alice Springs and then a 500km drive north to Tennant Creek and then some to put myself in the right position for mid-eclipse at 08:09am on the 10th May 2013. It all worked out very fine indeed!
On eclipse morning the zodiacal light appeared very bright in the dark pre-dawn sky. As twilight brightened the clouds moved in, being thickish to the east, though sunrise was viewed through a low window in the clouds. A few minutes later the first evidence of the moon impinging on the sun's disk was clearly seen as a nick at 12 o'clock. Then the sun/moon moved into the clouds which were moving south leaving clearing sky to the north where the objects of interest were heading. This happened about 15 mins before annularity and the sense of relief was almost palpable.
Twenty minutes before annularity I was intrigued to notice that the ambient light was taking on a lovely silvery tone similar to that normally seen just a few minutes before and after totality. Presumably the small moon was allowing more reddish solar edge light through than a larger moon would do during a total solar eclipse. Also at mid eclipse, although only 5% of the sun was visible, the perceived ambient light level seemed almost normal. Sneaking a peak at mid eclipse revealed a dazzlingly bright sun with hardly a suggestion that the moon was there at all! Amazing! I was very pleased to have a brief view of Baily's Beads at 2nd and 3rd contacts.
It was well worth the effort to see annularity for the first time and to place myself in a location that broadened my horizons further. It was very good, too, to share the event with a group of like-minded people who had travelled great distances to be there at the right place at the right time. Here are some Northern Territory birds and landscapes.
|The Zodiacal Light appeared very bright in the pre-dawn sky on eclipse morning. The brightest I've ever seen it.|
|Beautiful pre-dawn colours illuminate the troublesome clouds as we wait nervously for sunrise and the show to begin|
|A few minutes after sunrise; a nick is visible at the 12 o'clock position|
|15 minutes before annularity; the cloud is starting to thin out|
|Second contact. Baily's Beads are faintly visible. Here's a closer view. David Malin Astrophotography Award winner 2014|
|Mid-eclipse; the "ring of fire" in all its glory|
|Third contact. Baily's Beads again are faintly visible|
|Heading towards fourth contact; several sunspot regions are clearly visible|
|Just a couple of minutes before fourth contact and the end of the spectacle; many sunspot groups are visible|
|A montage of key stages during the eclipse|
|Solar projection onto a map of the area at annularity (08:07h). Here's another one after the end of annularity|
|A star trail looking south made from 194x30 second exposures taken beside the road to Standley Chasm. An aeroplane passed through during the exposures and a car's headlights was responsible for lighting the tree and for the large light flare on the left.|