Partial solar eclipse to grace Aussie skies this afternoon

SKY watchers across Australia will be treated to a partial solar eclipse this afternoon, as the Moon passes between the Sun and the Earth.

But viewers in the north of the country won't be in the box seat, with the greatest coverage happening in the south.

Starting at around 4pm, the Sun will slowly transform from a bright round disc to a setting crescent in some parts of the country.

Dr Tanya Hill, astronomer at the Melbourne Planetarium, told the ABC that although the Moon would cover a significant part of the Sun during the eclipse, most people would see very little change to the daytime conditions.

"It will only be if you're using the right methods to view to Sun that you'll actually be able to see that the solar eclipse is happening," Dr Hill said.

While the eclipse will be visible across the country, the greatest coverage will occur in the south, with up to two-thirds of the Sun covered by the Moon when viewed from Hobart.

In Brisbane, the partial eclipse will start at 4.31pm, and 24% of the sun will be covered by 5.17pm.

In Sydney, the eclipse will start at 4.14pm and the sun will be 41% covered by 5.15pm.

The partial eclipse is an annular solar eclipse, where the moon doesn't completely cover the sun, and the sun forms a thin ring around the moon. 

However, this won't be visible in Australia.

Writing on The Conversation website, Ian Musgrave said in some places such as Sydney and Brisbane, the Sun would set during maximum partial eclipse, offering the opportunity to get dramatic images of the crescent sun setting.

However, a flat, unobstructed view of the horizon is needed to see the event at its best.

A partial solar eclipse is not safe to look at, and those watching will need to use safe solar viewing techniques such as making a simple pinhole camera or using special solar-rated viewing glasses.

Topics:  astronomy brisbane partial solar eclipse science sydney

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