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Eclipse expected for Prince Charles' birthday in NZ

[link to tvnz.co.nz]

The Prince of Wales will be treated to a solar eclipse on his birthday in New Zealand this month.

Prince Charles will celebrate his 64th birthday at a party in Wellington with 64 New Zealanders who also turn 64 on November 14.

The Stardome Observatory & Planetarium said on the morning of November 14 all of New Zealand will be treated to a fine partial eclipse of the sun.

An eclipse of the sun occurs when the moon passes directly between earth and the sun casting a shadow on the earth.

Stardome's honorary astronomer, Dr Grant Christie, said, "Solar eclipses don't happen every New Moon because the moon's orbit about earth is tilted by about five degrees relative to the earth's orbit around the sun."

In fact, this will be the closest New Zealand has come to a total solar eclipse in nearly 50 years.

For this eclipse, the farther north you are in New Zealand, the more the sun will appear to be covered by the moon.

For Prince Charles in Wellington the eclipse starts at 9.26am as the moon moves on to the sun's disc.

Maximum eclipse is at 10.34am when the moon will cover about 76% of the sun, the eclipse will end at 11:47 am when the moon moves off the sun's disc.

From Auckland, maximum coverage will reach 87% and the sun will appear as a brilliant bright crescent.

The Stardome said in Auckland the partial eclipse will start at 9.18am reaching maximum coverage at 10:28am and ending at 11.44am.

In the far south of the country maximum coverage will reach 57%, while the greatest coverage of the sun will be seen from Northland's east coast where it will reach nearly 91%.

The next eclipse with this amount of coverage seen from New Zealand will not occur until 2028, and Auckland will not see a better solar eclipse until 2035.

The shadow of the Moon creates a 180km wide path that travels from west to east across the Pacific, starting in northern Australia and passing about midway between New Zealand and New Caledonia. It continues eastward finishing just before reaching the coast of Chile. Norfolk Island is located right on the edge of totality with 98% maximum coverage.

The northern parts of Australia are the only land areas that experience the total eclipse.

Prince Charles touches down in Auckland at around 9.30pm on Saturday. He is currently touring Australia, attending the Cup in Melbourne yesterday.

(this article is a few days old, prince charles is here already...)
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