Annular solar eclipse, Wellington Point, 29/4/2104

The cloud forecast was not looking promising. Large patches of red on Skippysky threatened to cloud out a potentially visually spectacular annular eclipse. Clouds aside, Brisbane was not expected to get as much of a show as the southern states- a modest 36% coverage compared to an anticipated 52% in Sydney, 64% in Melbourne and 72% in Hobart. However, the eclipse was scheduled to begin at 4.31pm and continue until the sun set at 5.18pm.

For photographers, this would be a bit of a coup as celestial bodies such as the sun and moon seem to appear larger the closer they are to the horizon, through the lower atmosphere they tend to drop down a few stops of light so are easier to exposure balance and they often take on a warmer glow, and there’s always the chance that if you were in the right place at the right time, you could further build the scene with something in the foreground to hopefully give the final image a touch of drama, the most notable example of which, in opinion, was Colleen Pinski’s spectacular shot which made the rounds a while back.

Planning was involved as usual, dragging pins around in TPE to see where the sun was setting in a few locations I had in mind, each of them unfortunately up to two hours apart, then using Google Earth to check terrain. A favourable low tide forecast opened up a few more potential options, such as Nudgee Beach and Wellington Point, and I picked the latter.

Arriving at 3pm, early enough to get a feel for the final shot, it was still touch and go. There was plenty of cloud in the sky, but the cover appeared to be patchy and the most important thing of all- the cloud around the horizon was not overly thick. Earlier on I had made up some solar filters from Astrozap Baader Astrosolar filter material in 3.8 and 5 densities (available online or from good telescope shops) and this allowed safe observation of the event, as well as afforded the sensors some protection when pointed directly at the sun.

I was pretty happy that luck held out in the end and I managed to come back with some shots to share. Enjoy!

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