Solar eclipse lovers--set your alarms for Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. PST.
A total solar eclipse is coming, and although it is unlikely you'll be able to see it in person, you can watch it live on your computer or smartphone--as long as you remember to look.
The eclipse will begin late Tuesday morning California time. The "path of totality," or the part of the earth from where the eclipse can be seen, is 108 miles wide and will cover 9,000 miles over a three-hour period. But it will be almost entirely over the Pacific Ocean. That's why National Geographic called this eclipse "one of the century's most remote solar eclipses."
The total eclipse will be visible from land for just a few minutes on the northern Australian coast overlooking the Great Barrier Reef. And that's where two different live streaming cameras will be set up to capture the show for the rest of us.
The Slooh Space Camera will be live-streaming the eclipse on its website, which will allow viewers to ask questions about what they are seeing and even let them snap photos that can be then be uploaded to Pinterest. The stream begins at 11:30 a.m. PST, about an hour before the total eclipse will be visible from the Australian city of Cairns.
Rob Giason, CEO of Tourism Tropical North Queensland, which has teamed up with NASA and the Astronomical Assn. of Queensland to live-stream the eclipse, said in a video that he expects 60,000 people to be standing along the beach watching the eclipse.
The good news is that this should be a pretty spectacular eclipse--as long as cloud cover doesn't get in the way.
Astronomy Magazine's Bob Berman, who will be co-hosting Slooh's live stream, paints this enticing picture of what to expect: "Nothing in nature can equal the sheer spectacle of a total solar eclipse, and this time the event is a dramatic sunrise apparition in the tropics, low over the ocean off the great Barrier Reef. Occurring as it does within months of the expected solar max, the solar corona should take on a 'wound up' circular shape, with a high potential for tongues of pink nuclear fire leaping from the sun's edge."
And if that doesn't convince you, check out the video from NASA at the top of this post that will give you more detailed information about the eclipse including what scientists hope to learn during the brief few minutes they can observe "totality."
I don't know about you, but I'm setting my smartphone alarm right now.