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Weather forecast puts cloud over Cairns eclipse viewing

By Jamie Rule, Brad Ryan and Hayley Turner, Tuesday November 13, 2012 - 12:17 EDT

Authorities say overcast weather could mean people heading to Cairns in far north Queensland for tomorrow morning's solar eclipse could struggle to see the phenomenon.

The director of James Cook University's School of Astronomy, associate professor Andrew Walsh, is heading north to Cairns to view the eclipse that could be partially or fully blocked by overcast weather.

"I'll be out there looking to make sure that I get the best vantage point and pray that the clouds are going to move away," he said.

He says the overcast conditions tipped for Cairns means Townsville could provide the best viewing.

"[It will] still be a very impressive partial eclipse, almost total eclipse from Townsville, I think that it's probably a better bet to be able to see something," he said.

Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Andrew Cearns agrees it is not good news for eclipse tourists north of Townsville.

"Most of the showers should be to our north, so I think the further north you are unfortunately the more likely you are to see cloudy skies," he said.

"I think it won't be totally overcast skies, so we should get a good view of the eclipse most of the time."

Whatever the conditions are in Townsville, locals will only get 96 per cent of the full solar eclipse.

It begins in Townsville at 5:47am (AEST) and reaches its peak about 6:40am.

Those getting up early to watch the phenomenon are being reminded to wear solar protective eye wear.

Meanwhile, far north Queensland police say wet weather and extra visitors are causing a number of crashes on Cairns roads as thousands of visitors arrive for the eclipse.

Sergeant Cary Coolican says most have been well behaved.

"With the onset of this weather we're seeing a few car crashes on our roads, so we're just urging motorists, and in particular people who aren't used to driving in these wet conditions, just to be vigilant," he said.

"We've had quite a few people coming into the CBD, there's been a bit of anti-social behaviour, but nothing out of the ordinary."


© ABC 2012

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