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ABC News
weather reporter Tyne Logan

Perfect weather conditions forecast for Exmouth, WA, for highly anticipated hybrid solar eclipse

Cloud is one of the few things astronomers can't control in planning for the solar eclipse. (AP:Julio Cortez)

Cloud. It has been described as the "mortal enemy" of the astronomy industry.

Thankfully for thousands of people from across the world who have descended upon the small town of Exmouth this week to see a total solar eclipse unfold, it will not be spoiling any views.  

The tiny, remote town on WA's West Cape Peninsula is one of the few accessible locations in the world where you can see the eclipse in totality.

It lies directly under the shadow that will be cast by the moon as it lines up perfectly with the sun, and at 11:30am on Thursday, April 20, the sun will be completely blocked out for 58 seconds before it reappears.

Thousands of eclipse chasers have descended on Exmouth in Western Australia. (ABC Pilbara: Kate Ferguson)

Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Jessica Lingard said the forecast at the crucial moment was about as good as it got — a big turnaround from the swathes of cloud the state saw last week caused by Tropical Cyclone Ilsa.

"On Thursday, there is a teeny tiny bit of cloud in the morning, but it does look like that is all going to burn off throughout the morning," she said.

"And at this stage, things are looking absolutely perfect from about 10am onwards.

"There is zero per cent sky coverage forecast, so really good condition for 11am."

The full event will last about three hours, according to

Partial begins (AWST)

Totality begins 


Totality ends

Partial ends

10:04:30 AM 

11:29:48 AM

11:30:17 AM 

11:30:40 AM

1:02:34 PM

'Magical moment' highly anticipated 

During a total solar eclipse, the sun's disc is completely covered by the moon. (Wikimedia Commons: Total Solar eclipse 1999 in France, Luc Viatour, CC BY-SA 3.0)

For Matt Woods from the Perth Observatory, who has been preparing for the event for seven years, it is all he can hope for.

"If I had $1 for every time an astronomical event was ruined by cloud, I could retire at 37," he said.

"… This is why we call them our mortal enemy in the astronomy industry."

Mr Woods said the highly anticipated event was going to be the first time he had seen a total solar eclipse.

"Hybrid eclipses are very, very rare on land," he said.

"The last time it happened was … 18 years ago or so, and the only place you could see it was actually Easter Island. And a lot of the times they happen, it's over water.

"The one thing I'm really looking forward to is being able to look towards the south-west and see it coming towards me.

"It's going to be a magical moment."

Near-perfect conditions elsewhere across Australia

Those in Exmouth will see the event in full, but the rest of Australia will be able to witness a partial eclipse.

How much sun is covered depends on where you are in Australia, but most of Western Australia and the Northern Territory will get at least 50 per cent coverage.

April 20 solar eclipse path showing coverage of the eclipse (per cent) across Australia by location. (ABC: Julie Ramsden)

Ms Lingard said the majority of the two states would have perfect weather conditions for the astronomical event.

"In WA, it's really going to be the far southern corner [that gets cloud]," she said.

"So it's going to be quite cloudy for the Great Australian Bight and Nullarbor coastline. 

"But everywhere else is looking absolutely clear."

Ms Lingard said there might be patches of cloud around Yulara and Alice Springs and isolated storms over parts of the Top End that would obscure the view.

"It does seem like we might be getting some more moisture moving back into parts of the top end," she said.

"So Darwin might be touch and go."

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