Total solar eclipse 2002 December 4
in South Australia
Frequently asked questions
- Why did you do this website?
I've lived and worked in the regions this eclipse goes through, I also do public astronomy presentations, and I have a fairly popular telescope website.
And so I've been getting eclipse-related questions. Often the same questions, over and over again.... This site is my attempt to answer some of those questions.
- Did anyone help you?
Many people have contributed information, logistical assistance, or advised me on what needs to be said. Contributors include (in alphabetical order):
Glenn Schneider, Greg Limbert, Heidi Yates, Jamie Mugridge and his Centreline Ute, Janita Hill, Jay Pasachoff, Joe Cali, John Hisco, Kate Farrell, Linda Biddau, Lisa Davies, Michael Farrell, Rob Curkpatrick, Rob Hill, Tony Beresford, Tony Virgo, The District Council of Ceduna, and the many people who have posed relevant questions to the Solar Eclipses Mailing List. None of them are responsible for what is actually said on this website.
- Where and when and how long is THIS eclipse?
That's what this website is all about. Read the other pages.
- Where and when is the NEXT total solar eclipse?
On the morning of 2003 November 24 (Australian time) in Antarctica. Most of Australia will see this one as a partial eclipse -- so hang onto your eclipse shades and solar filters. For details on Australian total / annular eclipses of the 21st century, click here.
- Where can I stay? How do I get there? What eclipse-related special events are happening?
Check out the links on the main page for additional information. And send these kinds of questions to them or your own travel agent; not to here. ALL emails to here asking about accommodation, travel, transport, tourism, eclipse tours and eclipse-related special events will be IGNORED.
- Which eclipse tours do you recommend?
The ones which take you into the path of totality for the afternoon of 2002 December 4.... And read the answer to the previous question.
- Where will YOU watch the eclipse from?
From somewhere near Lyndhurst, because that's where the tour I'm chaperoning are going.
- Will you be an astronomy guide for our tour?
See previous answer.
- How can I photograph / videotape this eclipse?
Not as easily as you think. Read this page.
- Where can I get eclipse shades (eclipse viewers) from?
UPDATE November 26 - Most places that were selling eclipse shades have SOLD OUT. They will not be ordering any more because they won't get to Australia in time!
You may be able to buy them from the visitor information centres in Ceduna, Woomera, Roxby Downs and Leigh Creek - IF they still have any left.
If you are in Adelaide, Starfield Photographic will be selling their LAST STOCKS from a stall inside Westfield Marion; from Thursday November 28 until SOLD OUT. Personal shoppers only and cash only. After this your only options will be to share a pair with someone, or pay the scalpers at the eclipse viewing sites.
- What can I use my eclipse shades (eclipse viewers) for after this eclipse?
Large sunspots can occur at ANY time, and the largest ones are visible to the eye when viewing through eclipse shades. Also the next total solar eclipse, over Antarctica on the morning of 2003 November 24 (Australian time) will be visible across most of Australia as a partial eclipse.
In addition, on the afternoon of 2004 June 8 (Australian time), the planet Venus passes directly in front of the sun for the first time since 1882. This transit of Venus should be visible to the eye when viewing through eclipse shades. Venus transits occur in pairs, about 8 years apart, separated by more than a century. Only 6 others have been witnessed in recorded history; including the 1769 transit which brought Cook and the Endeavour into the south Pacific for their discovery of eastern Australia. Your final chance to see a Venus transit is in 2012, because the next pair don't happen until the 23rd century!
- Why do you quote road distances instead of GPS positions?
Because not all of us have a GPS receiver! But most vehicles (including all rental cars) have a trip-meter that displays to about 0.1 km precision.
- Why haven't you done a Location Report for [placename]? It is in the path of totality.
Because it is probably also a dangerous place for a clueless tourist...so by not describing it I'm hoping to discourage clueless tourists from going there. And possibly getting themselves into serious trouble through their own ignorance. Plus it's much easier to locate and assist distressed tourists if they are in towns or on well-travelled roads.
- Why do you use this weird year-month-day format for some dates?
It's not weird to almost one third of the world's population. Some of them have been recording dates in this way - with the largest "time unit" written first - for centuries. Astronomers (and scientists in general) have also been doing dates in this way for decades. The International Standards Organisation recommend in ISO 8601 that dates and times should always be represented in this way; especially to an international audience.
- Why do you say "regolith" instead of "soil"?
Because regolith is the correct name for the stuff. Soil, in the farming sense, is typically divisible into an uppermost topsoil layer, rich in organic matter and heavily modified by plants and soil-dwelling organisms; underlain by a subsoil layer which is basically the topsoil minus most of the organics. Regolith (on Earth) is a product of prolonged weathering; formed in situ from the underlying rock. It contains no distinct layering and little or no organic matter. Regolith has as its surface the most weathering-resistant mineral grains and rock fragments. With increasing depth the proportion and size of rock fragments (and any easily-weathered minerals) increases, until it merges almost imperceptibly into true rock.
- Your information is wrong or incomplete.
If it's a technical or informational matter then send me an email. But if your information relates solely to tourism or events or travel or accommodation, don't send it here. Send it to the SA Tourism Commission instead (link on main page). Blatant commercial advertising and self-promotional fluff sent here will be ignored.
Notes for the mathematical nitpickers: The eclipse times are listed to the nearest second - and yes South Australia really will be running on UT+10.5 hours on December 4. The town's defacto centre -- its Post Office (or equivalent) -- has been adopted for its latitude/longitude. Note that some online geographic databases (and atlases) have typographic errors in them.
Some specific cases:
- The position of Woomera - a military base - was deliberately misstated in atlases throughout the Cold War (probably to confound Soviet nuclear missiles).
- The town of Leigh Creek has been moved south since its original founding so that the local open-cut coal mine could expand.
- A few sources also confuse the ~20 year old mining town of Roxby Downs with the much older pastoral homestead of the same name, many kilometres away from the town.
- The Bureau Des Longitudes eclipse map has numerous errors - and I'm not even counting their French spellings of Aboriginal place names as errors!
The current value of Delta-T, the actual shape of the Moon's edge as its shadow crosses South Australia, atmospheric refraction, and the altitude of the terrain under eclipse have all been taken into account for these maps. The positions of the Sun, Moon and Earth have been calculated using the full VSOP87 Planetary Theorem and the full ELP-82 Lunar Theorem. These are the best equations available -- NASA and other space agencies use them to navigate their spacecraft. If your astronomy program is giving you different times and circumstances for this eclipse, then it is probably not taking all of the preceding factors into account.
Outback travel advice is derived from my ~30 years of living and working in these regions. Eclipse safety advice is based on the experience of myself and millions of other people who have watched solar eclipses before, without harm or damage to eyesight. Finally, note the disclaimer and warning on the main page.
- Why don't you have clickable email links? Why are you literally spelling the email addresses?
To stop automated email-harvesters from collecting the addresses for use by spammers. To convert them back to useful email addresses, substitute "@" for "at", "." for "dot", and remove the spaces between the words.
- I emailed you and you never replied.
NO EMAILS will be answered between December 2 and 6 inclusive. For obvious reasons...
I repeat -- ALL emails to here asking about accommodation, travel, transport, tourism, eclipse tours and eclipse-related special events will be IGNORED. These kinds of questions should be asked of the SA Tourism Commission and/or your own travel agent.
I also will not reply to any questions which are ALREADY answered somewhere on this website.
Information updates or corrections from reliable sources will get a response. Eventually. And if necessary this website will be updated too.
- I tried to email you and I got an error message!
- "Cannot send mail for the last X hours" means our Internet link is temporarily down. This is almost always due to faults in our neighbourhood power or telecommunications systems, both of which are outside our control. An insight into our local power problems is given by our main webserver's Netcraft Survey reports. Every power failure - and some of them last for hours - drops our server uptime to zero.
- Your email program, or your Internet Service Provider's email servers, are not working correctly. Ask your Provider or your computer technicians for help.
- You use a Provider we refuse to accept mail from. Tell your Provider to shut down their Open Mail Relay and/or aggressively stamp out the spammers exploiting their services. We only cut off mail from them as a last resort, in self-defence, and after our complaints to the offending Provider have not resolved their problem. Most Providers enforce an Acceptable Usage Policy which prohibits mass mailing, but there's a few who don't care. We choose to protect ourselves from their deluges by refusing all mail from them. If your complaint is ignored then you should change Providers.
- You are located in China or Korea. We also refuse all email from there, due to rampant spamming of ourselves and our customers from compromised mail servers in those countries.
- Your email contained a virus.
- Your email contained phrases or word combinations commonly used in junk mail.
Incidentally, our email rejection policy was developed after consultation with our customers. We are not doing this specifically to annoy you....
- I downloaded a file from this website and it won't read or display; or I got a file full of garbage...
- You need to select Save to Disk... or Save Target as... to force your web browser to download the file to your computer, without trying to display it at the same time...
- Zip files (suffix .zip) are compressed archives which require a program such as Winzip or Pkzip to unpack them. I have deliberately used an older zip format so that these archives can be opened with just about any zip-capable uncompressor.
- PDF documents (suffix .pdf) require Adobe's Acrobat Reader to display and print them. Linux users can also use xpdf.
- Images (suffixes .gif & .jpg) can be displayed with your web browser, but some of the images here are very large, and are more easily viewed and printed with a proper image viewer.
Programs to handle zips, PDFs and images on various computer systems are available from the Toolbox pages if you don't have them already.
- My download won't work!
Perhaps your download manager tried opening too many simultaneous connections to our web server; or your download accelerator is on our banned list. These restrictions are from necessity; to prevent the significant service degradations that were caused by swarms of people trying to leech our entire file collection, and/or the file collections of the other sites hosted here. Our uplink capacity is limited.
Download managers that get the files one or two at a time (eg: WGet or GetRight) will work fine with our web server. Doing a few simultaneous downloads with your web browser is okay too. But programs (eg: Download Accelerator, Download Demon, NetAnts) that try to open dozens of simultaneous connections (per file) to our web server are not welcome.
Incidentally, we will gladly accept donations towards the ~$30,000 needed to get a broadband uplink installed here.
Copyright © 2002 Fraser Farrell. All rights reserved.
email: fraser at trilobytes dot com dot au