News National ‘Banana’ eclipse ruined

‘Banana’ eclipse ruined

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It was billed as the “super fat banana”.

But Tuesday’s rare partial solar eclipse was more like a rotten tomato.

Thick cloud blanketed most of the continent for much of the day, ruining any sustained view of the eclipse for astronomers and enthusiasts from Perth to Port Arthur.

At 4.14pm the moon nudged in front of the sun – causing a partial eclipse that experts predicted would darken the sky a little and make the sun look like a fat yellow banana.

The sky did turn dark on the eastern seaboard – but only because thick cloud and rain ruined the moment with less than heavenly timing.

“We got clouded-out on the east coast from the absolute moment the moon just touched the sun – it was incredible timing,” Melbourne-based astronomer Dr Alan Duffy told AAP.

“The next eclipse in Melbourne of this quality will be 2028.

“So this was very disappointing.”

So this was very disappointing

Astronomical Society of Victoria media spokesman Perry Vlahos was equally miffed.

He didn’t even go outside to check out the partial eclipse.

“I have given up all hope, the best optical telescope cannot see through rain and clouds,” he added.

Tasmania should have given the best view of the eclipse – the further south you were the more of the sun would have been covered.

Members of the Astronomical Society of Tasmania gathered at the rainy Rosny Lookout in Hobart’s east.

“We’ve actually got three telescopes here but at the moment they’re sitting in the boots of cars,” the society’s Bob Coghlan told AAP.

“The committee are telling jokes and saying who brought the cloud-busting laser just to keep their spirits up.”

Sydney Observatory had about 150 guests to watch the celestial activity.

Astronomer Andrew Jacobs said the partial eclipse was of little research value – scientists learn far more from full eclipses.

“We saw the very beginning of it, just a couple of minutes before it went into the clouds,” he said.

West Australian residents had a slightly better view but only towards the end of the eclipse when some of the cloud cleared.