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Ipswich astronomer chases his second total eclipse

2009 is the International Year of Astronomy, Brendan Downs has seven telescopes.
2009 is the International Year of Astronomy, Brendan Downs has seven telescopes. Sarah Harvey

WHEN the sun, moon and earth align, Ipswich astronomer Brendan Downs wants to be in the right place at the right time.

Mr Downs flew out of Ipswich for Cairns on Saturday morning to meet with friends to witness the total solar eclipse on Wednesday.

A total solar eclipse is when the moon passes in front of the sun and blocks it completely, forming a shadow on the earth.

The shadow follows a reasonably narrow path across the earth's surface and, this time, Cairns is the biggest city under it, making an ideal spot for eclipse-watchers. The rest of the state will see only a partial eclipse.

"I'm just taking quite a simple camera with different filters and lenses; I'm not taking any telescopes up but my friends have organised to have telescopes up there," Mr Downs said.

"I'm hoping to come back with some very incredible photos of the experience both of the sun and the surrounding areas, like beach-front shots and some people shots as well. I'll be trying to capture the whole experience as best I can. It's one of the great natural wonders of the world to be under an eclipse."

Mr Downs, who has found two supernovas, said it would be his second total eclipse after seeing one from Ceduna, South Australia in 2002.

"It's going to be right up there with anything I've done in astronomy," he said.

Topics:  cairns, total solar eclipse


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