Exmouth’s Mostly Total Solar Eclipse: Things You Need to Know
Cover photo: Total solar eclipse.
Something big is coming to Exmouth in April. And for a change, we’re not talking about the whale sharks! On 20 April 2023, locals and tourists alike will witness a spectacular natural occurrence – an almost Total Solar Eclipse. The moon will completely cover the sun during this rare astronomical event. If you are lucky enough to be in town, it will be one of the most awe-inspiring natural phenomena you are ever likely to see. And Exmouth is one of the only places in the world to get front-row seats. How good is that?!
It’s also the first time in over a decade that a Total Solar Eclipse will be visible in Australia. The last time was in 2012. It’s actually an extremely rare Hybrid Solar Eclipse. But more about that later. Read on to learn more about the Exmouth Solar Eclipse and what you can expect.
What is a Total Solar Eclipse?
A Total Solar Eclipse occurs when the moon passes directly between the Earth and the sun. When this happens, it blocks out the sun’s light and casts a shadow on the surface of the Earth. They call this the “umbra”. The area underneath the shadow is the “path of totality”. It is here where the Total Solar Eclipse occurs.
There are four types of Solar Eclipse: Total, Partial, Annular and Hybrid. This particular event falls into the latter category. But in Exmouth, the earth, moon and sun will align in unison, which means a Total Solar Eclipse.
So is it a Hybrid Solar Eclipse or a Total Solar Eclipse?
Without meaning to confuse you, it is both. A Hybrid Solar Eclipse is the rarest type of Solar Eclipse. They are a combination of both a Total Solar Eclipse and an Annular Solar Eclipse. When the moon’s shadow moves across the Earth, it produces a Hybrid Solar Eclipse. In the case of a Hybrid Solar Eclipse, they start as one type and transition to an eclipse of a different kind. In the case of the Exmouth Solar Eclipse, people will experience it as a Total Solar Eclipse. Yes, we know it is a bit confusing!
When and where will I be able to see the Exmouth Solar Eclipse?
If you’re in Exmouth on 20 April, you will be in the right place to experience what could well be your first-ever Total Solar Eclipse. At approximately 11.27 am, the sun will be obscured by the moon. And when the sun, moon, and Earth align, a Total Solar Eclipse will sweep across the North West Cape. Notable locations in Exmouth to view the eclipse include Cape Range National Park and Vlaming Head Lighthouse. Other parts of Western Australia will experience a Partial Solar Eclipse and enjoy varying degrees of darkness. Perth will experience a 70 per cent eclipse, and it will be 80 per cent in Geraldton and 99 per cent in nearby Coral Bay.
What will happen during the Exmouth Solar Eclipse?
It takes around three hours for the moon to move across the sun. Exmouth – the only town within the line of totality – will experience total darkness for a brief period. It won’t last long. Just 62 seconds, to be precise. At this moment, the temperature of the air will drop, and some planets and stars will become visible. During the Total Solar Eclipse, the sky will darken, and you will be able to see a bright corona around the moon. It will look like a white halo and isn’t visible in ordinary daylight.
When was the last Total Solar Eclipse and when will the next one be?
The last Total Solar Eclipse to be visible from the land was back in June 1974. On the 20th of June, Western Australia, the Indian Ocean, and Amsterdam Island were in the path of totality. It was a long total eclipse, lasting just over 5 minutes.
There are two solar eclipses in 2023. The next one is an Annular Solar Eclipse which will cross the Western United States, Central America, Columbia and Brazil on 14 October 2023. The next Total Solar Eclipse in Australia will be on 22 July 2028. On this occasion, the path of totality will stretch from the top of Western Australia down into New South Wales.
Will I be able to see the Total Solar Eclipse anywhere else?
Exmouth is obviously the best location. However, the 2023 Total Solar Eclipse will also be visible from West Papua, a province in Indonesia, and Timor Leste. The duration of totality will be 1 minute 9 seconds and 1 minute 14 seconds, respectively.
How can I watch the Solar Eclipse safely?
During totality is the only time you can safely view an eclipse with the naked eye. Remember to never look at the sun with your bare eyes. The sun’s rays contain harmful ultraviolet and infrared rays that can damage the retina in your eyes. In some cases, looking directly at the sun can cause blindness.
You will need to wear special eclipse glasses or a handheld solar viewer. Even if it’s a Partial Eclipse, you will still need proper eye protection to filter out damaging rays. A pinhole camera will enable you to view the eclipse indirectly. And don’t forget solar filters if you plan to use binoculars or telescopes.
How many people are expected to be in Exmouth to see the Solar Eclipse?
The Ningaloo Eclipse is an extraordinary event. So the Shire of Exmouth is preparing for an influx of eclipse chasers. They estimate somewhere in the region of 20,000 people will be staying in the area to experience the eclipse. A similar number of people are likely to scatter around the coast at various viewing points too.
The Shire of Exmouth and accommodation providers have catered for this event, by providing extra accommodation options. If you would still like the opportunity to witness this event contact Ningaloo Caravan Park reception directly by phone or email for a booking. Shuttle buses and food trucks will be operating to help ease traffic and support the town’s cafes and restaurants. But large numbers of tourists are due to flock to the area, so be prepared.
A Few Fun Facts About Solar Eclipses
- Somewhere on earth a Total Solar Eclipse will occur roughly every 18 months.
- More often than not, they occur out at sea. The April 2023 event is a rare opportunity to experience one from dry land.
- When a Solar Eclipse occurs, it’s always around two weeks before or after a Lunar Eclipse.
- Just 3.1% of 21st century solar eclipses are Hybrid Solar Eclipses. So they are extremely rare, making the Exmouth solar event even more special. Not only that, the Exmouth Hybrid Solar Eclipse will be the longest of its kind until October 2172.
- Animals may change their behaviour during the period of totality.
To celebrate this momentous occasion, a variety of activities and events will take place in Exmouth, Coral Bay and Onslow as part of the Dark Sky Festival. Visit the Ningaloo Eclipse official website to find out more.
Did you know that more than 80 per cent of the world’s population live in areas where it is impossible to see any stars? A desire to reconnect with nature and see stars is helping to market Western Australia as a world-class dark sky tourism destination. But if astrotourism isn’t your thing, we have plenty of suggestions to inspire your next Exmouth trip. Read our recommendations for the best things to see and do in Exmouth and Ningaloo.