Observatory offers views of the eclipse

YVETTE BATTEN - NORTH TARANAKI MIDWEEK
Last updated 11:40 07/11/2012
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Getting ready: New Plymouth Astronomical Society secretary Danielle Billing with the telescope at the observatory on Marsland Hill.

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Next Wednesday morning could be a little darker than normal.

That's because about 80 per cent of the sun will be covered by the moon in what's known as an eclipse.

This is when the moon's path crosses in front of the sun's and usually manifests, from Earth, as a black circle cut out of the sun.

New Plymouth Astronomical Society is holding a special event at its observatory on Marsland Hill so people can see the eclipse without damaging their eyes.

"We must warn people not to look directly at the sun for any length of time, even when it is partially eclipsed," said president Nick Gladstone, "and in particular, not to look at the sun through binoculars or a telescope. Serious eye damage can result."

The society will have several telescopes out with safe projections so people can see the eclipse. Special viewers will be available for $3.

Eclipses are not uncommon. What is uncommon is that they appear in no set place around the world and can be seen with differing degrees of sun coverage.

The last comparable eclipse, as seen from New Plymouth, was in 2008 but it was a cloudy day.

People will have to wait until September 2025 to see another comparable one here.

"In between, there are some minor eclipses when a small percentages of the sun is covered.

"These are usually not noticeable unless you are an astronomer particularly looking out for them."

Viewing begins at 9.22am, will reach maximum coverage by 10.30am and finish at 11.45am.

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