General Meeting: April 2021

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Total Solar Eclipses – How Common are they in the Solar System?

Summary: What makes total eclipses of the Sun especially interesting and perhaps the most spectacular of all natural phenomena for us on Earth is a consequence of the special geometry of the Sun-Earth-Moon system. Much has been made in the astronomical literature of this relatively unique time in the history of the Solar System when the angular sizes of the Moon and Sun are almost equal. Indeed, it is often claimed that in no case other than the Sun-Earth-Moon system is the angular size of a natural satellite close enough to that of the Sun to produce such a dramatic spectacle. In order to test this claim, a detailed analysis has been undertaken of the orbits and sizes of the 156 (as of late 2019) well-characterised and named natural satellites in the Solar System to reveal a surprising result.

Bio: Rod Hill has DSc, PhD and BSc degrees from the (then) Department of Geology and Mineralogy at the University of Adelaide. He is a former Chief Research Scientist and Group Executive in CSIRO, and Pro Vice Chancellor at Monash University in Victoria, Australia. He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering and a number of other professional organisations in the minerals and chemistry domains. The mineral “Hillite” was named after him in 2003. While working at CSIRO he had overall management responsibility for the Australian Telescope National Facilities at Parkes and Narabri, and was involved in Australia’s bid to host the Square Kilometre Array. He has published more than 100 research papers and several book chapters in the international refereed scientific literature relating to crystallography, mineralogy, and earth science. He has had a lifelong passion for astronomy, has built two 6-inch Newtonian telescopes, and currently owns an 8-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain ‘go-to’ telescope. To date, he has seen 9 total solar eclipses and 1 annular solar eclipse, and so is a bona fide ‘Eclipse Chaser’.


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Wednesday 07 Apr 2021

8:00 PM - 10:00 PM

The Braggs Lecture Theatre (University of Adelaide) and Online University of Adelaide



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