Australian eclipses: the Western Australian eclipse of 1974 and the East Coast eclipse of 1976

Article


Lomb, Nick. 2021. "Australian eclipses: the Western Australian eclipse of 1974 and the East Coast eclipse of 1976." Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage. 24 (2), pp. 475-497.
Article Title

Australian eclipses: the Western Australian eclipse of 1974 and the East Coast eclipse of 1976

ERA Journal ID30599
Article CategoryArticle
Authors
AuthorLomb, Nick
Journal TitleJournal of Astronomical History and Heritage
Journal Citation24 (2), pp. 475-497
Number of Pages23
Year2021
Place of PublicationThailand
ISSN1440-2807
Web Address (URL)http://www.narit.or.th/files/JAHH/2021JAHHvol24/2021JAHH...24..475L.pdf
Abstract

In 1974 and 1976 total eclipses of the Sun were visible from Australia for the first time in over 50 years. For the 1974 eclipse only the northern limit of totality touched land and observers were scattered across the few towns along the south-west coast of Western Australia. Clouds disturbed most scientific observations, while two rocket flights with instruments to image the Sun in ultraviolet light failed to obtain useful results. However, some amateur astronomers were fortunate with the weather at their locations so that they could observe the totally eclipsed Sun. The eclipse was notable for a viewing flight on a Boeing 727 passenger aircraft organised by an American travel company. This was the first commercial eclipse flight. The 1976 eclipse attracted many scientists, both local and from overseas, who mainly gathered in the NSW town of Bombala. Once again, clouds prevented observations. Unusually, the path of totality included the major city of Melbourne with its almost three million inhabitants. To try to prevent eye damage, the authorities encouraged the population to stay indoors during the eclipse and only watch on television. They were generally successful, though with the consequence that millions of people missed out on a once-in-a-lifetime chance to view a total eclipse from their own backyards.

Keywords1974 total eclipse, 1976 total eclipse, solar filters, eye damage, commercial eclipse flight
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020430302. Australian history
510199. Astronomical sciences not elsewhere classified
Byline AffiliationsCentre for Astrophysics
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
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