A partial solar eclipse will be seen in Gladstone skies on Wednesday morning.
A partial solar eclipse will be seen in Gladstone skies on Wednesday morning. Contributed

Geeks in heaven as countdown to partial eclipse begins

DON'T be surprised if you witness some bizarre behaviour in coming days from your pet birds and dogs.. and even dairy cows.

The behaviour will come to a head in an almost-total solar eclipse, with the moon passing between the Earth and the sun, on Wednesday morning.

The eclipse will be a total solar eclipse in Cairns, plunging the region into darkness, but will be experienced as a partial eclipse across the rest of Australia.

Between 50,000 and 60,000 scientists, astronomers, eclipse chasers, their friends and families from around the world will be in the region to the see the eclipse, the first for Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef since 710AD, according to Tourism Queensland's acting CEO Leanne Coddington.

"Three charter flights with 1200 scientists will arrive from Japan, six cruise ships will be moored off the coast and other scientists will study the effects of the eclipse on the marine life of the Great Barrier Reef and Queensland's rainforest birds and animals," Ms Coddington said.

Tourists to the area have booked out hot air balloon rides above the Atherton Tablelands, scenic flights over the Great Barrier Reef and horse riding tours on remote Queensland beaches.

The area is also host to an eclipse music festival and an eclipse marathon, where runners start as soon as the sun re-emerges from behind the moon.

Further south, it will be like twilight.

"It'll go deep twilight. That's the sort of affect it'll have," Owen Bennedick, of the Wappa Falls Observatory on the Sunshine Coast, said.

"It so happens the moon is 400 times closer than the sun, and the sun is 400 times bigger than the moon, so therefore they'll get perfect block of the sun in Cairns. We'll get 85%."

The unusual occurrence will begin in Gladstone at 5.53am, with the maximum eclipse at 6.51am and normal conditions again by around 7.55am.

"Some of the cows will head off to the milking bales to be milked. Birds will start chirping, thinking that it's becoming nightfall," Mr Bennedick said.

Dogs, which rely heavily on their sense of sight, have also been known to behave differently during these eclipses.

The next total solar eclipse in Australia will be in 2077.

Observers are warned not to look directly at the sun without special protection during any stage of the eclipse.



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