Sun show draws eager crowds
New Plymouth cloud and rain spoil the showISOBEL EWING
Eager Taranaki space gazers made the most of a rare solar eclipse yesterday, even though cloud and rain in New Plymouth spoiled the show.
About 30 people turned up at the New Plymouth observatory to peer through telescopes as the Moon passed between Earth and the Sun.
The Moon could be seen partially obscuring the Sun for about half an hour, but viewing was then disrupted as the rain set in. However, away from the coastal cloud, inland Taranaki had a much better view.
The New Plymouth Astronomical Society collected gold coin donations and sold solar viewers for $3 to raise money for a new telescope.
Secretary of the New Plymouth Astronomical Society Danielle Billing said it was a pretty good turnout considering it was cloudy.
The eclipse was less of an event than the Transit of Venus earlier in the year because they happened far more often, she said.
"But we haven't had one in New Zealand for quite a few years."
Budding astronomer Alison Greenfield, 6, got a telescope for her birthday and regularly gets space books out from the library.
"I want to learn about space because I want to be a scientist when I grow up," she said.
"I like planets because I like how some you can live on and some you can't."
She said she preferred lunar eclipses because they were more exciting.
"If it was lunar it would be red and that would be cooler."
Visitor John Barton said it was great the astronomical society arranged the viewing for the public.
Mr Barton said he used to be a member of the society and had always been keen on astronomy.
"I've got the oldest astronomy book in Taranaki."
Director of the New Plymouth Astronomy Society, John Calcott, warned visitors against looking directly at the sun because it can cause permanent blindness.
The New Plymouth Astronomical Society holds educational evenings for the public every Tuesday at 8.30pm at the observatory on Marsland Hill.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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