Eclipse delights skywatchers

By Trevor Quinn

Astronomers and Wairarapa skywatchers gathered at Stonehenge Aotearoa in rural Carterton yesterday to soak up an awe-inspiring eclipse of the sun.

Using telescopes and eclipse shades, they took in the rare sight while also viewing the majesty of the total eclipse from Cairns, in Queensland, via the internet.

At 10.34am, a 76 per cent eclipse was visible locally and at Stonehenge Aotearoa there were excited exclamations from young and old who had skipped school or work to watch the spectacular event.

Those who gathered first watched the total eclipse from Cairns, via the internet.

There were cheers as cloud cover of between 40 and 90 per cent lifted just moments before the eclipse happened.

Phoenix Astronomical Society organised the morning's events at the Carterton venue, which included the live feed of the Australian view of the eclipse beamed out on big screens.

"You get an eclipse every couple of years, if you want to travel to the other side of the world, but very rarely do you get an eclipse here in New Zealand," society member Edwyn Rod said.

"I think the next one is going to be in about 20 years, which is quite some time in the future."

Mr Rod, from Wellington, has had an interest in astronomy since he was young and the opportunity to see the eclipse was something he could not miss.

"Here, in Wairarapa, we're getting a 76 per cent [eclipse], so I think it was worth taking the time off work to head out and see it," Mr Rod said.

"Every time there's a comet, an eclipse or a lunar eclipse, we try to put on an event for the public and the members of the society."

Richard Hall, president of the society, said he was delighted that the advent of the internet had allowed people to view the eclipse from a number of locations throughout the world.

He said the last big event was the transit of Venus, which had been clouded out at Stonehenge Aotearoa, but with two big screens up people had been able to view live feeds from Canada and Australia.

- Wairarapa Times-Age

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