Thousands gather for stunning total eclipse over Australia that plunged Queensland into darkness

From boats bobbing on the Great Barrier Reef to hot air balloons hovering over the rainforest, and the hilltops and beaches in between, tens of thousands of scientists, tourists and amateur astronomers watched in awe as the sun, moon and Earth aligned and plunged northern Australia into darkness.

Forecasters were predicting cloudy skies around dawn Wednesday, but it didn't materialise, allowing stargazers to experience it unhindered.

The eclipse began at 05.45 in the far north of the Australian state, with totality occurring at 06.38 on November 14 (20.38 GMT).

'Immediately before, I was thinking, `Are we gonna see this?' And we just had a fantastic display - it was just beautiful," said Terry Cuttle of the Astronomical Association of Queensland, who has seen a dozen total solar eclipses over the years.

'And right after it finished, the clouds came back again.

Spectators whooped and clapped with delight as the moon passed between the sun and Earth, leaving a slice of the continent's northeast in sudden darkness.

Hank Harper, 61, and his two children flew from Los Angeles just to see the eclipse, and feared the clouds would ruin their adventure.

The three of them hopped on board a hot air balloon with other eager tourists and staff from Hot Air Balloon Cairns, crossed their fingers - and were rewarded with a perfect view.

'We gambled everything - drove through the rain and didn't even know if the balloon was going to go up," he said by phone from the hot air balloon as he and Harrison, 10, and Reilly, 12, watched the sun's rays re-emerge from behind the moon while kangaroos hopped on the ground below.

'It was everything I could have hoped for.'

On a dive-boat drifting along the blue waters of the Great Barrier Reef, a cheer of relief erupted as the clouds moved away at the moment of total eclipse, followed by a hush as darkness fell across the water.

One scuba diver floated on his back in the sea, watching the phenomenon unfold as he bobbed in the waves. Birds on a nearby island, startled by the sudden lack of light, began to stir.

'It was absolutely amazing.

'We were coming out this morning and there was a wee bit of cloud around and we were apprehensive,' Adam O'Malley of the Passions of Paradise dive company said by phone from his boat.

'We got a full view - absolutely breathtaking.'

Many worried that they would miss a rare chance to view the celestial phenomenon.

'There will be breaks in (the clouds), but it's just a matter of the luck of the draw whether you get a break at the right time,' said Queensland state Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Andrew Mostyn.

The eclipse cast its 150-kilometer (95-mile) wide shadow starting at dawn in Australia's Northern Territory and then crossed the northeast tip of the country before swooping east across the South Pacific.

No islands are in its direct path, so northern Australia is the only land where the full eclipse could be seen, said Geoff Wyatt, an astronomer with Sydney Observatory.

A partial eclipse was expected to be visible from east Indonesia, the eastern half of Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and southern parts of Chile and Argentina.

Totality - the darkness that happens at the peak of the eclipse - lasted just over two minutes.

Among those sweating out the forecast was U.S. astronomer Jay Pasachoff, who traveled to Australia in hopes of viewing his 56th solar eclipse.

Pasachoff, an astronomy professor at Williams College in Massachusetts, and a team of about 50 scientists and students fanned out across the region to improve the odds that at least some of them will see the eclipse.

The group is planning to study the sun's corona, the glowing white ring around the sun that is visible only during an eclipse.

Despite the anxiety over the weather and the long journey to get there, Pasachoff said he wouldn't miss it.

'Just imagine you were a heart surgeon and someone actually told you you could look inside a human heart only for two minutes, and only if you went halfway around the world, he said. 'You would do it.'

Some Queensland hotels have been booked up for more than three years and more than 50,000 people flooded into the region to watch the solar spectacle, said Jeff Gillies, regional director of Queensland Tourism.

Skygazers crowded beaches, boats, fields and hot air balloons to watch the event. Fitness fanatics raced in the Solar Eclipse Marathon, where the first rays of the sun re-emerging from behind the moon served as the starting gun.

Some have already been partying for days at a weeklong eclipse festival.

Scientists will be studying how animals respond to the eclipse, with underwater cameras capturing the effects of sudden darkness on the creatures of the Great Barrier Reef.

'It's an unknown with how they'll react,' Gillies said. 'A little bit of flora and fauna confusion, I would imagine.'

The last total solar eclipse visible in Australia was 10 years ago, in the South Australia Outback.

VIDEO Total Solar Eclipse Live - 11/13/2012

Responses to "Spectacular Total Solar Eclipse Over Australia (Video-Photos)"

  1. Ruth says:

    Out of this world. Sending love and light _()_

  2. Anonymous says:


  3. Anonymous says:

    Spectacular images of Australia made ​​Johann Lolos -

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