Soon after the Sun rises tomorrow morning, the second solar eclipse of 2012 will commence.
As we previewed some week ago, in an event lasting around 2 hours from first to last contact, the Moon will pass across the face of the Sun and in what is a simple quirk of nature, both have almost exactly the same apparent diameter; thus the period of total eclipse is very short and the Sun's entire corona is visible during that brief interval.
In addition, the effect known as Baily's Beads will occur as the moon seems to touch the edge of the Sun and the diamond ring effect will be seen.
A full interactive map display of the eclipse is available here from which the image above was taken.
For anyone located anywhere between the two red lines, the eclipse will be total; anywhere between the red and green lines will experience a partial eclipse where the Moon will appear to pass either side of the central line through the Sun.
A little east of Darwin, the Sun will rise already fully eclipsed, while in the Cairns region, the eclipse will last for a little over 2 minutes. Maximum duration of 4 minutes will occur in the mid Pacific Ocean around 2000km east of New Zealand. The eclipse will end at sunset around 400km off the coast of Chile.
Here in Melbourne (where iTWire is based) the Moon will first touch the Sun at 7:16am local time and coverage will peak at 8:06am with 42% of the Sun covered. The Moon will finally leave the face of the Sun at 9:00am. In Sydney, each event occurs a couple of minutes later with peak coverage reaching around 60% while in Brisbane, the eclipse occurs a few minutes earlier than in Melbourne with coverage reaching 80%. Note that without daylight saving, local time in Brisbane will be an hour earlier.
Just like the recent Transit of Venus, iTWire makes the VERY STRONG recommendation to NEVER look directly at the Sun. The only exception to this being during the brief period of totality when the Sun's light is fully obscured, for all other times, we suggest using a pair of binoculars to project the Sun's image on to a sheet of cardboard.