The Eclipse is coming to Cairns!
Tools and Apps - In less than 6 months Cairns will be THE place to be to observe a total Eclipse. Today 20th May there is another eclipse heading from China to Texas right across the Pacific
The globe gets 2 Total Eclipses in 2012 ! But some are harder to get to than others, and Cairns on November 14th 2012 is looking like a pearler.
Its been estimated that Eclipses only occur in the same location every 370 years and that the longest total eclipse this Century was in 2009 only 6 mins and 39 seconds
However the Eclipse of 20th May is showing us some lessons on choosing your location, and providing links to some great technical content on Eclipses and how to get the best out of them.
We've quoted here from the Eclipse observations of Glenn Schneider who came to Australia in 2002 to observe the eclipse in Australias dry centre and makes some comments about choice of Australia vesus Africa for his obbservations
" AUSTRALIA: In contrast, the inland regions of Australia eastward of the Torrens salt lake bed offered very dry conditions during the austral summer season, with mean cloud cover reaching as low as 20% (and best at the eastern extremedy of the path). On the Australian coast cloud cover was "expected" at about 50%, though here too convectionally driven cooling of the late afternoon moist sea air increased the likelihood of coastal cloud. Moving eastward along the path of totality, in Australia, the altitude of the sun declined so the "likelihood" of an obscuring cloud along the line-of-site increased (all other things being equal), which biases these statistics. When the low solar elevation is taken into consideration, inland sites were still significantly preferential to the coastal region. For these reason, evaluating the likelihood of a view of the sun unobscured by intervening cloud, the eastern end of the path of totality in Australia "shone" as the preferential location for an eclipse viewing site. With the ability to flee westward (i.e., remaining aggressively mobile) to react in situ to local weather conditions, this is where our band of eight umbraphiles headed for the 04 December 2002 eclipse " ref Glenn Schnieder
So looks like a Hot Air Balloon for observing the eclipse might be just perfect - extra elevation at around 800m to 1000m AGL and 2000 above sea level - a bi further west (40km) than the Coastal haze and potetnial for cloud and with Mareeba on the Atherton Tablelands boasting 300 + sunny days a year, we should have only a low chance of cloud cover getting in the way. We will be providing protective ey glasses but bring your cameras too
We will write further about photography in a future blog post but for now we are excited to try out some of the custom software that claims to make it all just too easy to take that perfect eclipse photograph
The Solar Eclipse Maestro for Mac only provides some great mapping and path prediction tools by the looks of it and we just wish we had the camera setup to go with its trackinhg features too
Eclipse Orchatator seems to be the recommended software for PC users to control their cameras and pre set exposures calcualted for you according to your location - seems that with just a 2 minutes of so to get that shot your wont want to stuff it up and so any help from the technology will be welcome
Checking out the iphone app store for eclipse apps didnt bring forth too many ipad apps just under the iphone ctaergory
Eclipse for iphone by Wang Lixiang seems to be more of a graphics based introduction and educational experince
Annular Solar Eclipse 2012 by Yoshikazu Kuramochi is the full on deal with maps, augmented realtity, and is free. Doesn't appear to be able to choose between eclipse events so for the moment doesnt show any information about the Australian eclipse of Nov 2012, only the one of May 20 21 . Australian app store only seems to have the japanese version but the US store has the english version. Has potential. Free
Luminos Astronomy - appears too broad to be useful to Eclipse observers just informational
Eclipse Calculator - has data for all eclipses and user definable locations but is more about predicting where eclipses will occur in the future than observing one right here and now
Solar Eclispe - by DLR at .99c is just a game - no technical information there
Sky Event Finder - looks to have a lot of value beyond just eclipses showing upcoming metor showers and plantary events in your location at 1.99 it proves that free isnt everything, however it doesnt have localised mapping for your location which is a greats hame
Total Solar Eclipses - by Pietro Massimino $1.99 again looks like a solid app with useful features but really just is a few simple screens with some stats - its ask for your location buta appears to do little smart with that information
Helios and TPE are good for predicting the potential angles of the sun on any given day and overalying on a map with augmented realtiy - actually found thes emore useful than some of the eclipse apps.
There is one for Android tho apparently although not tested by us there is EclipseDroid