Standing in the shadow of the moon 

Australia will experience a solar eclipse tomorrow and lots of West Australians are keen to see this rare celestial event. 

Phases of a solar eclipse. Photo: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani.

Most of the country will experience a partial eclipse, except the small WA town of Exmouth, which will experience the first total solar eclipse in years. 

Chief astronomer at The Gravity Discovery Center Rick Tonello says a lot of the action will be happening up in Exmouth.

“People there will experience something called totality,” he says.

“That is where the moon completely blocks out the blinding disc of the sun.

“It’s the wonderful celestial event known as the total solar eclipse; it gets a lot of people excited as they get to stand in the shadow of the moon for the briefest of moments.”

The solar eclipse will appear different, depending on where people are in the state. Graphic: Eleanor Forte.

For those who can’t make the journey to Exmouth, there are still many ways to see the event from Perth. 

The eclipse will start at 10am in Perth and is expected to finish before midday. 

Maximum eclipse will occur at 11.20am.

Professor of planetary science at Curtin University, Phil Bland says people need to be careful.

“Never ever look through a telescope or binoculars at the sun with a naked eye,” he says.

“It’s much better to view it in the presence of a professional or an experienced person.” 

Professor Phil Bland says it can be tricky to view the eclipse safely. Photo: Eleanor Forte.

With plenty of viewing events around the city, there are many ways to watch the event safely. 

Adelle Goodwin is a postdoctoral researcher at the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research. 

She will be at Matilda Bay, along the Swan River, with special telescopes. 

“ICRAR is running a pop-up telescope viewing, with a telescope with special solar filters,” she says.

She warns people need to still treat the sun with respect.

“Never look directly at the sun, this will damage your eyes … even with regular sunglasses,” she says.

There are also ways to experience the event from home. 

“You can actually face your back to the sun and look at your shadow and your shadow will show the eclipse. It will have a slightly odd shape and that will be the eclipse. You want to do that at 11.30am when the maximum part of the sun is covered,” says Ms Goodwin. 

Adelle Goodwin says there are safe ways to view the solar eclipse in WA. Video: Eleanor Forte.

“We are very lucky that we get a total solar eclipse,” she says. 

“It’s a complete coincidence as the moon is 400 times less wide than the sun and the sun is, by coincidence, about 400 times further away than the moon.

“This is the reason that the sun and the moon appear approximately the same size in the sky.”

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