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Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand

Eclipses in 2012


Eclipses of the Sun and Moon during 2012      Eclipses for other years.

For much more detailed information on eclipses and transits go to Fred Espenak's eclipse site.

Viewing Eclipses of the Sun and Transits of Planets across the Sun

Whenever the Sun is to be observed safe viewing methods must be used. Any attempt to view the Sun directly could result in instant blindness.

The safest way is to project the image of the Sun onto a suitable screen. Alternatively a suitable, specially designed, Solar filter may be placed in front of the telescope.

It is NOT safe to use a filter at the eyepiece as the focussed heat from the Sun could shatter it.  If unsure of safe methods consult your local astronomical society about suitable ways of observing Solar events.



Sorry! The current RASNZ supply of Solar Viewers has sold out

solar viewer



ECLIPSES DURING 2012

There are four eclipses predicted for 2012, two each of the Sun and Moon. Of there three are visible from New Zealand, although very little change will be visible during one of the lunar. eclipses. The second solar eclipse in November will be total, but only visible as partial from New Zealand, although seen as a very deep eclipse from the far north. The first solar eclipse in May is annular, visible across the north Pacific Ocean,

Both the lunar eclipses are partial, in the second the moon will only pass through the penumbra of the Earth's shadow, resulting in little obvious change to the brightness of the moon.

The first solar eclipse of 2012 occurs on May 20. The path of the annular eclipse only crosses land near its beginning and end, the rest crossing the north Pacific. Being early summer in the northern hemisphere a partial eclipse will be visible from all parts of the Arctic as well as most of the Pacific Ocean north of the equator.

The second solar eclipse is on November 13. This is total, but the path of totality crosses even less land than May's annular eclipse. It starts at dawn in the north of Northern Australia. After crossing the Gulf of Carpentaria and York Peninsula including Cairns, the total eclipse path then heads across the southern Pacific, touching no further land.

The first lunar eclipse occurs on June 4. This will be a partial eclipse with, at most, 37% of the moon's diameter immersed in the Earth's umbral, that is total shadow. The remainder of the moon will be in the penumbra. All phases of the eclipse are visible from New Zealand and most of Australia.

The second lunar eclipse is on November 28. In this case the moon only moves through the penumbra of the Earth's shadow, so there will be little obvious change. The entire eclipse is visible from New Zealand, on the early morning of November 29 NZDT. The moon will be very low at the end of the eclipse.

Annular eclipse of the Sun May 20. No part visible from New Zealand.
Partial eclipse of the Moon June 4/5, all stages visible from New Zealand.
Total eclipse of the Sun November 13. Visible as a partial eclipse from New Zealand.
Penumbral eclipse of the Moon November 28/29, visible from New Zealand.

All diagrams and predictions used on this page have been prepared with the aid of the OCCULT 4 program written by David Herald.


Annular Eclipse of the Sun, 2012 May 20

World map showing visibility of eclipse

This annular eclipse is entirely a northern hemisphere event. The track of the annular eclipse starts at dawn along the southeast coast of China including Hong Kong. It crosses the northern tip of Taiwan including Taipei. For these places the Sun will rise in eclipse. After crossing the East China Sea the path skirts the southeast coast of Japan, and includes Tokyo. So early in the eclipse it will be visible from some populous cities.

By contrast, after leaving the coast of Japan, the path arches across the north Pacific to pass some way south of the Aleutian Islands where the maximum eclipse occurs, the annular phase lasting just over 5 minutes 46 seconds. As the eclipse approaches the North America continent the path swings south again. It crosses the USA coast near the Oregon-California border and heads inland crossing Nevada, parts of Utah and Arizona into New Mexico where Albuquerque lies in the path. The annular eclipse ends at sunset in western Texas.

A partial eclipse will be visible to the north of the annular path, and includes all parts of the Arctic. To the south of the annular path, most part of the Pacific north of the equator will witness a partial eclipse, as will eastern part of New Guinea and some other parts of Indonesia just south of the equator.

Safe viewing of Solar eclipses

Diagram showing the parts of the Earth from which the eclipse is visible.

May 2012 annular eclipse

Annular diagram

Partial eclipse of the Moon, 2012 June 4

This eclipse of the Moon is at the full moon following the annular eclipse of the Sun on May 20. Unlike the Solar eclipse which is central, the eclipse of the moon will be partial with no more than 37% of the Moon's diameter in the umbral, that is complete, shadow of the Earth. An observer on this part of the moon's surface would see the Earth completely blocking out the Sun. The remainder of the Moon will be in the penumbra or part shadow. An observer on the part of the moon in the penumbra would see the Earth partly covering the Sun.

All stages of the eclipse are visible from New Zealand and most of Australia. During the penumbral stages little change to the moon's brightness will be noticeable although it will gradually diminish. The moon will start to move into the umbra at 10pm NZST. Shortly before this, parts of the moon near where the shadow will first appear are likely to look distinctly dull. After 10pm the eclipsed part of the moon will look dark compared to the partly lit potion.

The moon will be moving through the northern part of the Earth's shadow, so southern parts of the moon will be darkened. South is the upper part of the moon as seen from the southern hemisphere, although before local midnight the moon will appear rotated in a clockwise sense. Diagrams showing the position of the shadow are below.

The umbral phase of the eclipse lasts just over an hour, after which the moon will be moving out of the penumbra for about 72 minutes.

June Lunar eclipse
Path of the Moon through the Earth's shadow


1. First contact with penumbra, 8:48:04 UT, 8:48:04 pm NZST.
2. First contact with umbra, 9:59:57 UT, 9:59:57 pm.

4. Maximum eclipse, 11:03:14 UT, 11:03:14 pm.

6. Last contact with umbra, 12:06:28 UT, 12:06:28 am.
7. Last contact with penumbra, 13:18:24, 1:18:24 am UT.



    Visibility and Times of the Eclipse (below)
Visibility of eclipse

The moon in eclipse as seen from New Zealand
The eclipse from New Zealand

Total eclipse of the Sun, 2012 November 13 UT

World map showing visibility of eclipse      Times of the eclipse for Australia and New Zealand

Note, the calendar date for this eclipse for Australia and New Zealand is November 14.

This is another eclipse with a path mainly over ocean, in this case the south Pacific. The path of totality does start over extreme northern Australia about 200 km east of Darwin. The path crosses the Gulf of Carpentaria and then the base of the Cape York Peninsula with Cairns and Port Douglas seeing a total eclipse.

At Cairns the eclipse will occur in the early morning, totality lasting for 2 minutes. The Sun will be 14° above the horizon, so low to the east.

From Cairns the total path moves, at first, to the east-southeast across the Pacific, passing a little to the north of New Zealand. After reaching the latitude of the South Island of New Zealand, far out in the Pacific the path starts to swing back to the north, with the eclipse ending at sunset some way to the west of Coquimbo in Chile.

A partial eclipse will be visible from all parts of Australia (anywhere it is not total), although the Sun rises after the start of the partial eclipse for the western half of the country. A partial eclipse is also visible from New Zealand, many of the south Pacific islands and, at sun set in most of Chile and the southern parts of Argentina.

Safe viewing of Solar eclipses


Diagram showing the parts of the Earth from which the eclipse is visible.

November 2012 total Solar eclipse

Diagrams showing the maximum extent of the eclipse as seen from north, mid and south New Zealand

Maximum eclipse from New Zealand

Safe viewing of Solar eclipses


Eclipse times for places in Australia and New Zealand

Times of the beginning (1st contact), middle and end (4tt contact) of the eclipse are shown. 2nd and 3rd contacts are the times during which the Sun is completely eclipsed for places which see a total eclipse, that is Cairns. The column headed Max Mag shows the fraction of the Sun covered at greatest eclipse for places seeing a partial eclipse. At Cairns it shows the proportional excess of the apparent diameter of the moon compared to the Sun.

Times for places in New Zealand are shown as NZDT (UT + 13 hours). Times for places in Australia are in UT.

Total Eclipse of 2012 Nov 14 - Times (NZDT) of start, max eclipse and end for places in New Zealand


                  1st Contact   2nd Contact    Maximum     3rd Contact     4th Contact
Site             am NZDT   Alt              am NZDT   Alt               am NZDT  Alt    Max
                 h  m  s  deg     h  m  s    h  m  s  deg     h  m  s    h  m  s deg    Mag
Alexandra        9 32 32   35    .. .. ..   10 34  5   45    .. .. ..   11 40 28  55   0.618  .
Ashburton        9 30 34   36    .. .. ..   10 34 33   47    .. .. ..   11 43 46  58   0.672  .
Auckland         9 18 18   37    .. .. ..   10 27 36   51    .. .. ..   11 44  4  64   0.871  .
Blenheim         9 26 43   38    .. .. ..   10 33 30   50    .. .. ..   11 46 13  61   0.750  .
Christchurch     9 30 13   37    .. .. ..   10 34 59   48    .. .. ..   11 45  7  59   0.689  .

Dunedin          9 34 21   36    .. .. ..   10 36 10   46    .. .. ..   11 42 42  56   0.615  .
Gisborne         9 23 52   41    .. .. ..   10 34 34   54    .. .. ..   11 51 56  66   0.863  .
Greymouth        9 27 16   36    .. .. ..   10 31 46   47    .. .. ..   11 41 52  58   0.698  .
Hamilton         9 20 15   38    .. .. ..   10 29 33   51    .. .. ..   11 45 47  64   0.854  .
Hastings         9 24 52   40    .. .. ..   10 34 25   53    .. .. ..   11 50 24  64   0.826  .

Invercargill     9 34 46   34    .. .. ..   10 34 52   44    .. .. ..   11 39 28  54   0.584  .
Kaikoura         9 28 23   38    .. .. ..   10 34 31   49    .. .. ..   11 46 19  60   0.726  .
Masterton        9 26 35   39    .. .. ..   10 34 45   51    .. .. ..   11 49  1  62   0.782  .
Napier           9 24 36   40    .. .. ..   10 34 16   53    .. .. ..   11 50 24  64   0.831  .
Nelson           9 25 52   37    .. .. ..   10 32 20   49    .. .. ..   11 44 47  60   0.748  .

New Plymouth     9 21 55   37    .. .. ..   10 29 57   50    .. .. ..   11 44 35  62   0.809  .
North Cape       9 12 45   35    .. .. ..   10 21 35   49    .. .. ..   11 38  8  64   0.911  .
Palmerston North 9 25 25   39    .. .. ..   10 33 52   51    .. .. ..   11 48 34  63   0.795  .
Queenstown       9 31 45   34    .. .. ..   10 33  0   45    .. .. ..   11 39  7  55   0.616  .
Stewart Is       9 36 30   34    .. .. ..   10 35 23   43    .. .. ..   11 38 31  53   0.557  .

Taupo            9 22 30   39    .. .. ..   10 31 59   52    .. .. ..   11 48 10  64   0.841  .
Tauranga         9 20 40   39    .. .. ..   10 30 34   52    .. .. ..   11 47 25  65   0.867  .
Te Anau          9 32 20   34    .. .. ..   10 32 41   44    .. .. ..   11 37 46  54   0.598  .
Timaru           9 31 25   36    .. .. ..   10 34 44   47    .. .. ..   11 43  9  57   0.655  .
Wanganui         9 24 12   38    .. .. ..   10 32 29   51    .. .. ..   11 47  7  63   0.799  .

Wellington       9 26 47   38    .. .. ..   10 34 13   50    .. .. ..   11 47 39  62   0.764  .
Whangarei        9 15 52   36    .. .. ..   10 25 12   50    .. .. ..   11 41 58  64   0.894  .


   Total Eclipse of 2012 Nov 13 - Times (UT) of start, max eclipse and end for places in Australia

                 1st Contact    2nd Contact    Maximum     3rd Contact  4th Contact     Max   Central
Site               U.T.    Alt     U.T.        U.T.    Alt      U.T.       U.T.  Alt    Mag    Durn
                 h  m  s  deg     h  m  s    h  m  s  deg     h  m  s    h  m  s deg           sec
Adelaide        20 12 54    7    .. .. ..   21  0 50   16    .. .. ..   21 52 29  27   0.522   ....
Alice Springs       Sun below horizon       20 46 55    7    .. .. ..   21 40 48  19   0.725   ....
Brisbane        19 56 23   13    .. .. ..   20 54 25   26    .. .. ..   21 58 56  40   0.835   ....
Broken Hill     20  6 24    7    .. .. ..   20 57  7   17    .. .. ..   21 52 16  29   0.611   ....
Cairns          19 44 46    1    20 38 34   20 39 34   14    20 40 34   21 40 20  28   1.037   120.7

Canberra        20 10 12   15    .. .. ..   21  3 57   26    .. .. ..   22  2 39  38   0.618   ....
Darwin              Sun below horizon           Sun below horizon       21 31  1  11   .....   ....
Hobart          20 26 10   18    .. .. ..   21 14 53   27    .. .. ..   22  7  8  36   0.450   ....
Kalgoorlie          Sun below horizon       20 57 26    1    .. .. ..   21 41 46  10   0.468   ....
Melbourne       20 16  9   13    .. .. ..   21  6 18   23    .. .. ..   22  0 29  34   0.524   ....

Newcastle       20  5 31   15    .. .. ..   21  1 36   27    .. .. ..   22  3 20  40   0.695   ....
Perth               Sun below horizon. ..       Sun below horizon       21 41 39   6   .....   ....
Rockhampton     19 50 58    9    .. .. ..   20 48  1   22    .. .. ..   21 51 32  36   0.904   ....
Sydney          20  7 11   15    .. .. ..   21  2 37   27    .. .. ..   22  3 27  39   0.669   ....
Townsville      19 46 53    4    .. .. ..   20 42 16   16    .. .. ..   21 43 45  30   0.964   ....


Penumbral eclipse of the Moon, 2012 November 28/29

This eclipse takes place in the early morning of November 29 as seen from New Zealand. During it the moon will only move through the penumbra of the Earth's shadow, no part of the moon being in total eclipse. Thus there will be little noticeable change to the moon, so the eclipse will not attract much interest, especially in view of its timing after midnight.

At mid eclipse almost all the moon will be in the penumbra, with its northern edge close to the umbra. As a result the northern part of the moon may look noticeably dull close to the time of mid eclipse.

The moon will be visible for just about the entire period of the eclipse as seen from New Zealand and Australia. The final stages as the moon is leaving the penumbra will take place in New Zealand very close to the time of sunrise, for some places the sun will have just risen. In the opposite direction the moon will be close to setting. In the east of the North Island near Gisborne and Napier the moon will set or be setting as the eclipse ends. Well before that time there will, in any case, be no visible effect on the moon at all.

December Lunar eclipse
Path of the Moon through the Earth's shadow


1. First contact with penumbra, 12:14:58 UT, 1:14:58 am NZDT.


4. Maximum penumbral eclipse, 14:33:01 UT, 3:33:01 NZDT.


7. Last contact with penumbra, 16:51:08 UT, 5:51:08 NZDT.



    Visibility and Times of the Eclipse (below)
Visibility of eclipse

All diagrams and predictions used on this page have been prepared with the aid of OCCULT 4 by David Herald.