What types of eclipse are there?
There are 5 main types: Total Solar, Partial Solar, Annular Solar and Full Lunar and Partial Lunar
On average there is a total solar eclipse somewhere in the world approx every 18 months
- Solar eclipse: Occurs at new moon, when the moon is between the earth and the sun.
- Total eclipse of the sun: The moon appears the same size as the sun, and completely blocks the light.
- Annular eclipse: The moon appears slightly smaller than the sun, creating an intense brilliant ring or annulus.
- Partial eclipse: The moon passes in front of the sun, but never completely covers it.
- Lunar eclipse: Occurs at full moon, when the earth is between the sun and the moon.
Will we arrive in plenty of time?
We aim to get into the path of annularity or totality early allowing plenty of time to for you to set up any photographic equipment or for you to take in your surroundings.
What equipment can I use?
For those interested in capturing the eclipse even simple digital cameras, when fitted with a solar filter, can get surprisingly good shots of the event. For first time eclipse chasers we recommend that you just watch the event unfold and enjoy it.
What can I expect to see and experience?
Soon after first contact (when it appears that the moon touches the solar disc), we can see the moon slowly edging across the sun through our special solar glasses.
IMPORTANT: NEVER look at the sun directly with your eyes or with optical instruments that are un-filtered as you will damage your eyes beyond repair!
It can take up to an hour for the moon to cover the sun completely, so we have plenty of time to witness the natural changes happening around us. The usual daytime noise of birds and other wildlife gradually becomes quieter as they think night is upon us, and as the strength of the sun slowly reduces, it can even feel quite cool. Before second contact (when the trailing limb of the moon covers the solar disc), the major stars can be observed and planets too as the sky starts to blacken.
The anticipation of a total eclipse is electric in the final few minutes before the moon fully covers the sun. Totality can be over six minutes, depending on location, and is a truly awe-inspiring event and something that we believe everyone should witness at least once in their lives.
As has been experienced in the past, during a total eclipse even at midday, the sky is jet black and full of stars, with the bursting corona (the sun’s outer atmosphere) appearing like a halo in the heavens. All around the horizon for 360 degrees, the sky is a surreal mixture of yellows, reds and greens as we look across to areas that are not in the zone of totality.
At third contact (just as the moon is moving slightly across the solar disc) and precisely on time, the first pinpricks of sunrays break out from behind the uneven surface of the moon. Through the lunar mountains and craters we see the effect known as Baily's Beads, and we can often witness the shadow of the moon shoot past us at 700 metres per second. Now, slowly, the earth starts to heat up again and the wildlife realise that it wasn't nightfall after all and quickly become active again.
Eclipse viewing tips
- Solar glasses are required for all eclipse phases including the partial phases and annularity, but they aren’t required during totality.
- Check the likely weather.
- What time of day does the eclipse occur?
- Is the terrain, hilly or flat, built up or rural?
- Prepare your camera for eclipse photography and test well beforehand!
- Check with Explore to see where the next eclipses are and what trips we are going to offer.
- Travel responsibly with a reputable company like Explore.
See our China eclipse 2009 blog
See our Easter Island eclipse 2010 blog