Jamie Morton

Jamie Morton is science reporter at the NZ Herald.

Partial eclipse of the sun will be total eclipse of heart for stargazers

Kiwi stargazers will be making the most of a solar eclipse this morning - the next one won't come around for another five years.

While the best vantage point for today's annular eclipse is northwestern Australia, New Zealand is still on the edge of the range of the eclipse.

Over Auckland, only around 8 per cent of the sun will be covered when the eclipse reaches maximum coverage at 11.49am. In Wellington, coverage will reach just 1 per cent - barely noticeable without a telescope.

Stardome astronomy educator David Britten said just the penumbra - or part of the sun - would be covered as the moon's shadow travelled across the face of the earth.

"And that's what we will see from Auckland - we are right on the edge of the penumbral part of the shadow, so we are just going to see a very thin slice taken out."

Even in parts of Australia, where the middle of the shadow would fall, a ring of sun would still appear around the moon.

But while it would appear to Aucklanders as if only a small bite had been taken out of the sun, eclipse enthusiasts and amateur astronomers had still been waiting in excited anticipation.

"This is a special type of eclipse, and people who follow eclipses like to follow all types," Mr Britten said.

The next solar eclipse, visible only in the very south of the country, is due in 2018.

Those planning to view the eclipse should wear solar glasses or use a telescope fitted with a solar filter.

IN AUCKLAND

Starts: 11.06am
Maximum eclipse: 11.49am
Ends: 12.33pm

• The primary path of this annular eclipse starts in northwestern Australia, so NZ is right on the edge of the range of the eclipse.

• With up to 8 per cent predicted coverage visible in Auckland, the effect will look like a very small bite has been taken out of the sun.

• The next solar eclipse visible in New Zealand won't be seen until 2018.

- NZ Herald

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