Total solar eclipse 2002 December 4
in South Australia
Location Report for the Woomera Prohibited Area
Click here to download a high-resolution version of this map (2.1MB zip).
If you have come directly to this page from another website; you can find my other eclipse information here.
You may also find some of the images and descriptions in the Roxby Road and Stuart Highway Location Reports to be useful.
The site managers of the Woomera Prohibited Area (WPA) advise all eclipse visitors that:
- Access to the WPA is always strictly controlled, and access to the designated eclipse viewing site by visitors will be monitored in accordance with normal access controls.
- Eclipse viewing within the WPA will ONLY be permitted from the designated site. If you attempt to view the eclipse from other locations within the WPA, then you will be arrested and charged with trespassing on Department of Defence-owned land. Or worse, you may have a deadly encounter with unexploded munitions.
Visitors are cautioned that some parts of the WPA are used for military exercises involving live ammunition and explosives.
- An entry fee to the designated site of $45 (Aust) per person will be charged on eclipse day. This fee includes transport and amenities as below. If you are part of an authorised eclipse tour then this fee should already be included with your tour cost - check with your tour operator or travel agent.
- Basic amenities - "shade, portaloos [portable toilets], musical entertainment and a light supper" - will be provided at the viewing site.
- Visitors and their equipment will be ferried by bus from Woomera to the viewing site. Visitor's cars will NOT be permitted into the WPA. Transportation for heavy equipment and large telescopes will be available.
Therefore the map provided here is limited to showing you the location of the designated eclipse viewing site (shown in purple) near Koolymilka. This is close to centreline on a treeless stony plain, and reached by a 48 km bitumen road from Woomera.
Note that any tour operators who claim to have arranged their own "exclusive" or "private" eclipse viewing area within the WPA are either (a) telling lies, or (b) unaware of the WPA access controls, or (c) they're going to the designated viewing site anyway, and haven't told you....
Eclipse times (Australian Central Summer Time) for the viewing site are: first contact 18:42:13, TOTALITY (26.4 seconds) from 19:40:53 to 19:41:19. At totality the Sun will be 6 degrees above the horizon at bearing 248 degrees (west-southwest); and will set - still 40 percent partially eclipsed - at about 20:16.
For further information about all eclipse-related activities within the WPA, contact the local organiser, Linda Biddau (linda dot biddau at baesystems dot com).
These images (left) were taken from the boundary of the WPA to give you some idea of the terrain. They were taken on a cloudy day in mid-winter; so the sunlight is MUCH less intense than what is expected for eclipse day.
The Woomera region has been continuously eroded for more than 500 million years, and during the last 50 million years has changed from a wet temperate woodland into a desert. Much of today's land surface consists of a deeply weathered regolith covered either by small sand dunes, or by extensive swathes of gibber stones as shown here (with a Nokia 5110 mobile phone for scale). These silicified rock fragments become concentrated on the surface by the desert winds (and occasional floods) removing all finer material from around them.
This surface has low mechanical cohesion; so conventional vehicles driven carelessly can get bogged in it even when it's dry. When it's wet, just about any wheeled vehicle can get bogged in it. Driving over gibber stones at speed will throw up rocks which may cause significant underbody damage to your car - for example its brake hoses and fuel lines - or cause multiple tyre punctures.
The tripods of heavy telescopes and cameras will also sink into this surface; so I suggest that you bring some bricks or planks to put under your tripod's feet.
Click here to display a high-resolution version of this image.
Copyright © 2002 Fraser Farrell. All rights reserved.