JCU alumnus to study effects of eclipse
Eclipse 2012 will change the life of North Queenslanders, according to eclipse chaser Dr Kate Russo who has arrived in the region to research how the experience of totality affects people.
The former James Cook University student has taken a break from her career as a clinical psychologist in Belfast, Northern Ireland, returning to her family home in Ingham so she can join the tens of thousands of people expected to observe the total solar eclipse crossing between Innisfail and north of Port Douglas on November 14.
Dr Russo will speak at a number of events in Cairns, Townsville and Port Douglas to promote her first book, Total Addiction: The Life of an Eclipse Chaser, which describes what it is like to experience totality. She will speak at JCU’s Cairns campus on October 23 and November 27.
“I am using this eclipse to research how a total solar eclipse impacts on our sense of time, place and person and will use the information in my next book,” she said.
“North Queenslanders and visitors who have never experienced an eclipse before can complete a survey at www.beingintheshadow.com before the eclipse and then complete a second survey after the experience.
“I was completely blown away by my first eclipse experience - I had absolutely no idea that you could have such a strong physical and emotional response to an eclipse.
“The goosebumps, the overwhelming emotion, the feeling of being connected to something bigger, the rush, the euphoria ... I was definitely hooked after that first time, and once I returned home I then started my eclipse chasing 'career', making plans to go see the next one.
“Overall, I have now spent 16 minutes and 13.9 seconds standing under the shadow of the moon.”
Eclipse 2012 will be Dr Russo’s eighth total solar eclipse, and will be special because this time she will feel a part of the community over which the eclipse passes.
Many of Dr Russo’s eclipse experiences have been made all the more exciting by the adventure of getting to the path of totality.
“I have travelled in a dugout canoe to a remote part of Madagascar, crossed the Sahara on a camel to get to Tunisia, had visa issues getting to Mongolia and was captivated by Cappadocia,” she said.
“The magic of watching an eclipse occur just before sunset in South Australia was very special, and yes, I have been disappointed when heavy cloud cover blocked the view of an eclipse in China.
“Most people in North Queensland are completely unaware of what is about to happen to them and how, for some, their worlds are going to turn up-side-down.
“To randomly find yourself along the path of totality only happens once every 375 years. I’d say that’s a great position to roll out of bed and find yourself in, on November 14.”
Dr Russo plans to keep an eye on the weather predictions closer to the time and leave her viewing location options open.
“I think viewing from the coast somewhere would be the easiest from a practical point of view, and a sunrise followed by a total eclipse from a tropical North Queensland beach would be an amazing experience,” she said.
“But, if it looks like the morning sky is likely to be blanketed with cloud, then an inland location would have a better chance of clear skies.
“When I did my scouting trip in 2010, my favoured location was simply sitting on the beach at Palm Cove. It’s a stunning setting, the sunrise was glorious and filled the sky with the most amazing hues of orange, pink and purple.
“To be able to experience such a gorgeous sunrise, and then to have that followed by a total eclipse – awesome beyond words.”
Dr Kate Russo will deliver the lecture, ‘The Total Eclipse: Prepare to be Totally Amazed’, at the Crowther Lecture Theatre, JCU Cairns on Tuesday, October 23 at 5.45pm.
She will deliver ‘The Life of an Eclipse Chaser - After the Eclipse’, at the Crowther Lecture Theatre, JCU Cairns on November 27 at 5.45pm.
A full list of speaking engagements can be found at www.beingintheshadow.com.
Issued October 19, 2012
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