Wealthy Japanese travellers on private charter jets and NASA scientists are among 60,000 visitors piling into Queensland’s far north to watch Australia’s first full solar eclipse for a decade.
The influx is expected to provide a $75 million boost for the region’s tourism industry, with hotel rooms reportedly booked three years in advance and hot air balloons being prepared for some lucky stargazers.
But with the full eclipse only visible from relatively small parts of the Cape York Peninsula and Northern Territory, the rest of the world will follow the event via cyberspace, or the twitterverse.
Tourism Tropical North Queensland and NASA are providing a live stream of the full eclipse, which should be seen (clear skies permitting) just after sunrise at 6.39am (AEST) on Wednesday.
Organisers say that is expected to garner an audience of millions, with particular interest in North America, Canada and Europe.
The Slooh Space Camera will also broadcast live images via its website, slooh.com.
Plenty of Twitter users and bloggers are preparing to offer commentary and images of the event - with photo-sharing site Instagram expecting a surge in pictures of the moon covering the sun.
In the Northern Territory, the eclipse will be visible in totality from northwest of Jabiru from about 6.08am (CST).
Several hundred people are attending the Gurruwiling Solar Eclipse Festival, near Ramingining - one of the few parts of the NT where the full eclipse will be visible.
Wednesday’s event is the first full solar eclipse visible from Australia since 2002 - and that was only visible in the nation’s south.
Residents across the rest of the country will be able to witness Wednesday’s eclipse first hand, but not in its totality.
A partial solar eclipse will also be visible in parts of New Zealand, Chile and Antarctica.
In north Queensland and the NT, the eclipse is expected to be visible for about two minutes, with the normal dawn sky plunged into near darkness.
SOLAR ECLIPSE FACTS AND FIGURES
- The eclipse on Wednesday, November 14th is the 45th in a series known as ‘‘Saros 133’’, the first of which occurred on July 13, 1219.
- A further 20 total eclipses and seven partial eclipses are left in the series, with the last set to occur on September 5, 2499.
- Wednesday’s eclipse will be visible from 0.46 per cent of the world’s surface.
- The last solar eclipse to be visible from Australia occurred on December 4, 2002 and was visible from parts of South Australia.
- The next solar eclipse to be visible from Australia is expected on May 10, 2013 - but it will only be an annular eclipse (where the sun is still visible around the edges of the moon).