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How and when Sydneysiders can see the solar eclipse on April 20

How and you when you can see the eclipse (safely) from Sydney

Maya Skidmore
Written by
Maya Skidmore

Celestial-seekers, get ready. For the first time since 2012, Sydneysiders will get the chance to see a full solar eclipse with their very own eyes. And that’s just the beginning. 

On Thursday, April 20, 2023, Australians will be treated to an awe-inspiring view of a solar eclipse, the likes of which we haven’t seen Down Under in over a decade. A total solar eclipse is when the moon travels directly over the sun, blocking out the big star’s brazen light and throwing a shadow across the surface of the Earth. In science speak, this shadow is called the ‘Umbra’, and the area beneath the shadow is rather dramatically named the ‘Path of Totality’. 

It is the land within the ‘Path of Totality’ that all lucky human beans will get the chance to see the full expanse of this terrifyingly beautiful phenomena with their own eyes. Unfortunately, this time around, only people in Exmouth, Western Australia, will get to see the sun disappear completely behind a black hole, stars and planets become visible, and the sun’s burning white outer ‘corona’ come into terrifying focus for a full three minutes. Gasp!  

When will I see the solar eclipse in Sydney? 

For everyone who lives north of Exmouth (which is quite a lot of us), the eclipse won’t be quite as dramatic – but we will still get to see it. The sun will begin to disappear above Sydney at 1.36pm on April 20, while Melburnians should look up at 1.15pm for a solar show. Sydneysiders will see a 'partial eclipse' instead of a full one, with 10 per cent of the sun getting covered for us. The moon will begin to touch the sun's edge at approximately 1.36:41pm. At 2.28:56 the eclipse will at its peak for Sydneysiders, with the moon getting to its closest point to the centre of the sun. Then, at 3.18:39pm, the eclipse will stop entirely, with the moon departing from the sun's edge. The weather on Thursday is projected to be overcast with a chance of thunderstorms, so it's possible the clarity will be compromised – but we'll still (hopefully) be able to make out the phenomena in the middle of the day. 

How do I look at the solar eclipse safely? 

This is probably the most important question you'll ask all day. Looking at the sun with your naked eye is obviously a big no, and it's vital that you take proper safety precautions if you want to avoid sun blindness, and possible permanent damage known as 'solar retinopathy'. To do so, you'll need to wear special eclipse glasses that meet the international safety standard of ISO 12312-2, but if you can't get your hands on the eclipse glasses, you can make your own, or watch a live stream of the sun's mind blowing journey. 

When can we expect to see another solar eclipse in Australia? 

It turns out that right now, Australians are on track to witness five solar eclipses over the next 15 years. This is due to the fact that we are currently travelling in an ‘eclipse path’, a rare event that could last be witnessed by those in the Great Southern Land back in 2002. The last time Sydneysiders got to see a total and full solar eclipse was in 1857 (aka: when we were in the Path of Totality), but it now it looks like we will get to see another one from our Harbour City in 2028. This means that (reasonably) soon, city dwellers will get to see the sun drop away above Sydney for the first time in 170 years. 

Prime those alarm clocks, people. 

Like watching the sky? Head to one of Sydney's most stunning stargazing sites, or get up high at one of the city's best lookouts.

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