The 2012 Eclipse:
Paths and Details

All diagrams and maps © Fred Espenak and Xavier Jubier

World Path

2012 Eclipse

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The Total Solar Eclipse of 14 November 2012 (13 November by UT (GMT)).

The narrow blue region is the Path of Totality (also known as the Umbra).

The Moon's umbra (shadow) travels from west to east (left to right and top to bottom on the map). At the point of Greatest Eclipse, totality is at local midday. The duration of totality at greatest eclipse is 4 minutes 02 seconds. This occured in the Pacific Ocean. On either side of that point, the duration of totality is less. To the West (left) of the point of greatest eclipse, the eclipse was total before local noon; East (right) of this point, totality was seen after local noon. The umbra is generally widest around the time of greatest eclipse as the Earth is bulging out towards the Moon in that region. This brings the Earth's surface closer to the Moon.

The area on either side of the path of totality (in pale blue) is called the Penumbra and provided a partial eclipse, the magnitude decreasing with distance from the path of totality. Beyond the partial region no eclipse is visible.

The Sub-solar Point is the location where the Sun is overhead at the time of greatest eclipse; in November this point is South of the equator. The parts in red on either end of the umbra are the regions where the eclipse occurs during sunrise (left) or sunset (right).

The path of totality began in the Northern Territory region of Australia (at sunrise) and passed over parts of Queensland. After leaving the coast of Queensland and crossing parts of Australia's Great Barrier Reef, the path of totality did not touch any more land. The umbra left the Earth in the Pacific Ocean 800km West of Chile (at sunset).

The umbra took 3 hours 13 minutes to traverse its entire path of 14,500km, covering 0.46% of the Earth's surface.

Path Across Australia


The path of totality (the Moon's umbra) is the shaded area moving across Australia from top left to lower right.

After leaving Australia, the umbra passes south of New Caledonia and north of New Zealand.

Path Across the Cairns Region

Cairns, Queensland

The two outer black lines are the path of totality and the middle line is the Centre Line. The maximum duration of totality is found along the centre line.

The diagonal blue lines show the position of the umbra at one minute intervals.

To the West (left) of the dotted black line parts of the partial eclipse occur before sunrise. To the East (right) of this line, all stages of the eclipse are visible.

The duration of totality at Cairns (the only city in the area) is 2 minutes 00 seconds (increasing slightly as you move north). The duration of totality on the centre line north of Cairns (at Oak Beach south of Port Douglas) was 2 minutes 05 seconds. Our eclipse site was about 12 kilometres north of Cairns at Machans Beach. The duration here was 2m 03s.

The Moon's shadow took about three minutes to cross this region.

Path Near Cairns

2012 Eclipse Machans Beach

The eclipse site (marked with a yellow X) was at Machans Beach north of Cairns.

Eclipse Details

Date 14 November 2012 (Local Date)
Location Machans Beach - Cairns, Queensland, Australia
Latitude 16° 50' 46" S
Longitude 145° 44' 45" E
Altitude 6 m
Distance from Centre Line less than 15 km
Sunrise (UT + 10) 05:35
1st Contact 05:45
2nd Contact 06:38:29
3rd Contact 06:40:32
4th Contact 07:40
Duration of Totality 2m 03s
Path Width 144 km
Major Axis 540 km
Minor Axis 124 km
Direction of Shadow Approach 293°
Umbral Velocity 3.7 km/s
Solar Altitude 14°
Solar Azimuth 105°
Position Angle: 2nd Contact 108°
Position Angle: 3rd Contact 288°
Gamma -0.37189
Diameter Ratio 1.037
Obscuration 1.075
Saros Details 133 (45 / 72)

The Location, Latitude, Longitude and Altitude (in metres) are for the observation site at Machans Beach, a village approximately 12km north of the city of Cairns in Queensland, Australia. The figures were measured on Google Earth.

The Distance from Centre Line was estimated from Google Interactive maps provided by Fred Espenak.

First Contact is the beginning of the eclipse when the first "bite" appears on the Sun's disk; it is the beginning of the partial phase. Note that this was a very early eclipse as First Contact took place shortly after sunrise. Second Contact is the beginning of totality. Third Contact is the end of totality. Fourth Contact is the end of the partial eclipse. The times are in local time which, for this eclipse, is UT + 10 (GMT plus ten hours).

The Duration of the eclipse at the observation site was 2 minutes 03 seconds.

The Path Width is the width of the path of totality. The umbra itself was very elliptical in shape. The Major Axis is the longest axis of the umbra; the Minor Axis is the shorter axis. The umbra at the observation site was 540km long and 124km wide and produced a path width of 144km.

The Direction of the Shadow indicates that the umbra approached the observation site from the West. The Umbral Velocity is the speed of the Moon's shadow (3.7 km per second) at the observation site. This and the umbral width determine the duration of the total eclipse.

The Sun's Altitude is measured from the horizon; the Azimuth is the direction of the Sun measured clockwise from North. The figures are for mid-eclipse. The Position Angles indicate the exact position of the Sun's disk where the Moon covers and uncovers the Sun at the beginning and end of totality. These figures determine the position of any diamond rings at the beginning and end of totality.

Gamma determines how the Moon's shadow, if extended, would pass through the Earth. A Gamma of zero implies that the shadow would pass through the exact centre of the Earth. A Gamma of greater than 1 misses the Earth and no total eclipse would occur. A positive Gamma passes North of the Earth's centre; a negative Gamma passes South of the Earth's centre. The value of Gamma for this eclipse is -0.37189. This means that the shadow passes about a third of the way South of the Earth's centre. This, combined with the fact that in November, the Southern Hemisphere is tilted well towards the Sun, produces an eclipse mainly in the Southern tropical and temperate regions.

The Diameter Ratio determines how much bigger the Moon's apparent radius is than the Sun's. In this case, the Moon's radius is 1.037 that of the Sun's. A total eclipse can only occur if this figure is greater than 1. The Moon would then appear larger than the Sun and could cover it completely. If this figure was less than one a total eclipse could not occur because the Moon would appear smaller than the Sun.

The Obscuration determines how much larger the Moon's apparent area is than the Sun's.

The Saros is a collection of eclipses belonging to a series. Each member of the series is followed by a similar eclipse approximately 18 years, 11 days and 8 hours later. This eclipse is a member of Saros number 133. It is the 45th eclipse out of a total of 72 in the series.

The series began on 13 July 1219 with a small partial eclipse in the Arctic regions. This was followed by 12 partial eclispes of increasing magnitude as the Moon's shadow moved closer to the Earth's centre with each successive eclipse. On 20 November 1435, the Moon's shadow finally made contact with the Earth but the Moon was too far to cover the Sun completely and an annular eclipse of 1m 14s duration occurred. The series consisted of 5 more annular eclipses of decreasing duration as the Moon approached the Earth. On 24 January 1544, the eclipses became hybrid, that is annular along some of the path and total along other parts.

The first completely total eclipse of the series occurred on 3 February 1562 (the 20th eclipse of the series, duration 0m 41s). Saros 133 has 46 total eclipses and after the first, the duration slowly increased as the Moon continued to approach the Earth. The longest duration was reached on the 36th eclipse (7 August 1850) which was 6m 50s long.

Subsequent eclipses have been of ever shortening duration.

Kryss and Talaat saw the previous eclipse of this Saros (the 44th) in Chile on 3 November 1994.

The final total eclipse of Saros 133 (the 65th eclipse of the series) will occur on 21 June 2373 (duration 1m 24s). The series ends with seven partial eclipses, the final one being a small partial (4%) in the Antarctic on 5 September 2499.

The entire series will last for 1280 years.

At any one time dozens of Saros series are in progress. Other eclipses will belong to different series.

KryssTal Related Pages

The 2012 eclipse main page.

Maps of the path of the 2012 eclipse from Fred Espenak and eclipse details at the observation site.

People from the 2012 eclipse.

Stars and planets visible during the 2012 eclipse.

Photos of the eclipse site, the partial phases, totality, the diamond ring and the media.

There are always photos that didn't quite work out.

Travel photos from Australia.