The first annular eclipse to pass over mainland Australia since 1959. The groundtrack for this eclipse passes over mostly remote Australia, crossing the west coast just south of Geraldton, and leaving the East coast north of Cairns. From Perth approx 90% of the Sun was eclipsed.
The point closest to maximum eclipse in WA occurs near the town of Walkaway. From here 99% of the sun will be eclipsed (magnitude = 0.9905). The groundtrack is around 30-40kms wide.
I have been looking forward to this eclipse for years. I have been interested in astronomy for only about four years, and this was the first big eclipse that I have seen.
I took a few days off work and traveled to Greenough (approx 400km north of Perth) with a few family members on the 15th. That night some astronomers in the area put on a talk and viewing night at the Greenough Historical Hamlet.
On the morning of the eclipse we spent a couple of hours fishing at the Greenough river mouth. By 12 noon we set off for the viewing area. The location we observed from was a farm called Tuart Park that was right on the eclipse center line. Hundreds of people also observed from here, with many telescopes, cameras and video systems set up over the paddock.
I personally was using my 8" dobsonian reflector and was setup for both visual observing, and photographic observations.
During the eclipse I would have had at least 50 people look through my scope. It was really interesting to meet all the different people that had come from all over the world to view the eclipse. I talked to about 8 people from America, some from France, Germany, Japan, Ireland and more.
By the time maximum eclipse had occurred, the temperature had dropped at least seven degrees. It was much cooler and lighting had become very subdued... very hard to explain. Maximum eclipse was at 3:28. By 3:00 I could see Venus naked eye, and by 3:10 Jupiter was visible.
The maximum only lasted for 36 seconds which was very short. By the time I snapped a few shots and looked around it was all over! I personally didn't see any diamond flash or baileys beads but I heard of several people that managed to see some.
Anyway, I'm not really too good at explaining things, but this eclipse was one of the best things that an amateur astronomer like myself could witness. The pleasant surroundings and meeting lots of different and interesting people from all over the world will make it an event I will remember for a long time.
Annular Solar Eclipse - February 1999