If you are planning a late holiday this year, there is still time to book for the total solar eclipse of November 14/13. This is the second solar eclipse of the year – from Ireland we missed out on the annular eclipse in May and will have to travel to northern Australia or the South Pacific to catch this one.
Eclipse travel is a popular business- one website has links to over 30 companies that offer a wide variety of tours. Most include some sort of expert who will travel with your group. The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada has a trip organised with an expert on solar eclipse eye safety – Dr Chou from the University of Waterloo. He is on his sixteenth solar eclipse.
This eclipse starts at sunrise in the Northern Territory, east of Darwin, on November 14 and travels eastward. It will be an early morning sight and with the likelihood of clouds on the horizon mobility is all important. If you intend to view from a beach, please note that high tide on the eastern coast of Queensland near Cairns is at 9 am. This is well after the eclipse has ended, but don’t set up too close to the water line before dawn, since the tide will be coming in! The eclipse, as viewed from the coast between Cairns and Port Douglas will last a maximum of 2 minutes.
The longest duration of the eclipse is out in the South Pacific Ocean, at just over four minutes, but for that you will have to book a long duration cruise with several at sea days just to get there! Some companies are offering cruises around the Great Barrier reef, with eclipse viewing thrown in – prices start from $2000 US for an inside cabin – travel to Australia not included. The tour leader for one of these is Dr Pat Reiff from Rice University in Houston; she is on her twelfth eclipse trip!
The Moon’s shadow will continue across the South Pacific, ending up off the coast of Chile at the end of the eclipse, three hours after it started. This is another “time-travelling” eclipse – it starts on November 14, but finishes on November 13! The partial phase will be visible from all of Australia and New Zealand and parts of Antarctica and South America.
If this is too far to go, in 2013 there are two solar eclipses – neither of them total, 2014 has two, neither of them total, but 2015 has a total eclipse on March 20. The large partial phase will be visible from Ireland and it will only be a short hop to the Faroe Islands to see the total eclipse! I would expect to meet some of the truly dedicated eclipse chasers there, perhaps even the American astronomer Jay Pasachoff. He has observed 54 eclipses, 29 of them total, logging a mammoth 127h 32m 42.4s in the shadow of the Moon. I’ve only seen two eclipses, both of them partials. Anyone else for the Faroes?