Astronomy | It’s history’s most-watched solar event

Australian astronomer David Reneke isn’t just in demand here at home – he’s going to the United States for something epic.

A major US tour company has asked the radio presenter to head a 12-day tour across the United States, for the Great American Eclipse.

“I’m pretty chuffed that I’ve been asked to lead a tour on what’s going to be the most-watched sky event in history,” he said.

ASTRONOMIC: One billion people will watch the Great American Eclipse.

ASTRONOMIC: One billion people will watch the Great American Eclipse.

“It’s one of the most incredible sights a human being can ever imagine.”

Eclipses are nothing new, but this is the first time in 99 years that one is crossing the entire United States in one go. 

There will be 12 million people in the eclipse path - that’s half the population of Australia – and one billion people world-wide will watch it on Monday, August 21.

David’s tour will go through Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, which is in the path of the eclipse.

“The eclipse only lasts two minutes and 40 seconds but in that time, people from all over the world are coming to see it,” David said.

“This has been booked out years ahead.  You can’t get a hotel or motel anywhere.”

David will tell his stargazers how to photograph this event and what to expect and he’s thrilled to have been asked.

“It just shows that what I’m doing is making a change.”

His website stretches to 13 Australian radio stations and 32 countries and he puts stories online.

“They say there’s a very thin line between a hobby and an obsession,” he said with a smile.

“My partner, Robyn and I have been to New Zealand with a major tour company, travelled on the Ghan twice, and cruised in Papua New Guinea guiding people on an eclipse there.”

An eclipse happens when the moon passes between us and the sun.

“It’s only when all the mechanics of the solar system work together.  

“It happens once every two years somewhere around the world.

“Isn’t it interesting that the moon is 400 times smaller than the sun, yet these two cover themselves exactly?

“But the sun is 400 times further away,” he added.

Planet earth is also the only place in the universe where this occurs. It’s a quirk of nature that the disc of the moon completely covers the sun.