The total solar eclipse visible from Ceduna, South Australia was
an event that I have been looking forward to for many years.
It took three and a half days to drive the 2000+ km's to Ceduna.
Day One was Perth to Coolgardie, then the second night at Cocklebiddy,
third night at Nundroo, then Ceduna. The nights spent on the Nullabor
were truly specatular with amazing dark skies.
We arrived in Ceduna several days before the eclipse and already the
town was swelling in size. Our accomodation at the Foreshore Caravan
Park was booked about 18 months in advance, which was some good forward
planning as accomodation was hard to come by. Several tent cities
were built around the town, and the local racecourse was home to a sea
of campervans and motorhomes.
The tourist centre in the town was a constant hive of activity with
eclipse infomation and weather updates. We also had a tour of the local
fish processing market, and the Ceduna Radio Observatory - an ex Telstra/OTC
dish now used by University of Tasmania.
The weather around Ceduna was not too promising with a constant wind
and often cloudy skies. On the day of the eclipse many people decided
to drive the four-odd hours to Lyndhurst which was further inland and
had a cloud-free forecast. We decided to stay put and try our luck.
Although first contact wasn't until 18:40 (SA daylight savings time) the
crowds started to build around the foreshore early in the morning. In one way it was kind
of like the crowds building around the Swan River for the Australia Day fireworks.
The Scientist's had a section of the foreshore to themselves, as did a large
Although I bought my 8" dobsonian, it was far too windy to use it so I settled
with my 80mm short tube reflector (both had appropiate solar filters).
Photography was attempted with a digital camera held at the eyepiece. I was also
operating another digital camera for general photo's.
First contact occurred behind the clouds, with the prospects of a clouded total
eclipse seeming a very certain possibility. Within the next hour there was probably
no more than five minutes of clear viewing of the sun. Finally totality was upon us
and it was within a clear patch of sky! For 32 seconds we were able to look at
the eclipsed sun with our naked eye and were able to witness such a glorious sight
that words fail to describe. The cheer of the thousands of people created such an
amazing atmosphere. Further around the foreshore at Thevenard (no more than 2 kms away)
there were reports that the viewing was obstructed by cloud which really goes to
show just how lucky we were with the weather. As totality came to an end the sun was
again enveloped by cloud and pretty much stayed that way until sunset.
The next morning we hit the road again for an express trip home - 2 days driving with
only one night stop near Caiguna. It was certainly a long trip for such a brief eclipse -
but it was worth the hard work. I have always been intrigued by the group of people
that call themselves "eclipse chasers" and will go to any end of the globe to witness
a total solar eclipse. It looks like I may now be one of those people, and may soon
book an airline ticket to Turkey in 2006.