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Spectacular sight for star-gazing students

A group of Shepparton students turned their gaze to the sun yesterday as they observed a partial solar eclipse with the help of a high-powered telescope.

ASHLEIGH WILLIAMSON November 15, 2012 4:10am

McGuire College science teacher Rob Steer and Year 11 student Alex Claney with the telescope.


McGuire College students have been able to reach for the stars this year.

The school used a $10000 telescope on loan from Melbourne University to view yesterday’s solar eclipse.

Year 7 student Xander Brereton, 13, said he saw the moon cover about 25 per cent of the rising sun.

‘‘It looked like the sun was getting destroyed,’’ Xander said.

Year 7 twins Sachin and Shea McNaughton, 13, said the sun resembled Pac-Man during the eclipse.

Year 11 student Dylan Kerr, 17, caused his school to loan the telescope because he constantly asked his science teacher Rob Steer astronomy questions.

Dylan did not watch the eclipse, but he has his own telescope to look at the sky at any time.

‘‘Looking up at the night sky and seeing all these tiny, little dots — there is so much we haven’t seen,’’ he said.

‘‘Everything about (astronomy) is magnificent.’’

Mr Steer said a friend heard on radio that Melbourne University wanted to loan the telescope.

McGuire College will have the telescope for three years and Mr Steer invited community groups and students from other schools to use it.

‘‘It is getting more kids involved in astronomy because it so far to travel to the observatory or other places in Melbourne,’’ he said.

‘‘We want science to be hands on.’’

Astronomical Society of Victoria spokesman Perry Vlahos said the moon covered up to 42 per cent of the state’s rising sun during the eclipse.

Mr Vlahos said the eclipse started at 7.20am and finished at 8.52am in Victoria.

Former Shepparton resident Nathan Holt saw the moon cover most of the sun from Elcho Island in Arnhem Land, about 550km north-east of Darwin.

Mr Holt, 39, is teacher at Shepherdson College, a bilingual school in Galiwin’ku, a community of about 2200 people. He said many community members gathered to watch the eclipse.

‘‘We, obviously, had solar eclipse glasses, but the smoke from the burning fire-stick farming in Arnhem Land... was on the horizon, so as (the sun) came up we were able to stare straight at it,’’ he said.

‘‘It didn’t hurt our eyes.’’

An estimated 60000 visited north Queensland to watch the full eclipse at 6.39am, including 1200 Japanese scientists.

The eclipse was the first to occur in Australia since a shadow cast over Ceduna in South Australia in 2002.

The next total solar eclipse in Australia is expected to occur in 2028.

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