JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Under cloudless skies, 20,000 eclipse chasers flocked to a small outpost to watch a rare solar eclipse plunge Australia’s northwest coast into brief midnight darkness Thursday.
Exmouth, a remote tourist town of fewer than 3,000 people, has been advertised as one of Australia’s best vantage points to view the eclipse as it crosses remote parts of Indonesia and East Timor.
An international crowd had gathered for days, camping in tents and trailers on a red, dusty plain at the edge of town with cameras and other viewing equipment skyward.
NASA astronomer Henry Throop was among those cheering loudly in the darkness at Exmouth.
“Isn’t it incredible? It’s amazing. It’s mind-blowing. It was so sharp and bright. You can see the corona around the sun there,” said the excited Washington resident.
“It was only a minute, but it felt like a long time. There’s nothing else that feels like it. It was fantastic. Spectacular. And then you see Jupiter and Mercury and you can see them at the same time during the day – it’s very rare to even see Mercury. So it was fantastic. ,” Throop added.
First-time eclipse chaser Julie Copson traveled 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) north from the Australian west coast port city of Fremantle to Exmouth, an event that left her skin tingling.
“I was so emotional, like I was crying. The color changed and I saw the corona and the sunlight…,” Copson said.
“It was very strong and the temperature dropped a lot,” he added, adding that the temperature suddenly dropped 5-degrees-Celsius (9-degrees-Fahrenheit) from 29 degrees Celsius (84 Fahrenheit) as the moon’s shadow enveloped the region. .
It’s the fifth eclipse for Detroit resident Shane Varty, who began planning his trip to Exmouth a year ago.
“It’s very exciting. All this effort has paid off,” Varthy said.
In Indonesia’s capital, hundreds of people flocked to the Jakarta Planetarium to watch the partial eclipse obscured by clouds.
Aska Aszahra, 21, came with her sister and friends to get a closer look with hundreds of onlookers using telescopes.
“Even if it’s cloudy I’m glad to come. It is good to see people coming here with great interest to witness the eclipse as it is rare,” said Aszahra.
The call to prayer rang out from the city’s mosques as the eclipse began as Muslims in the country with the world’s largest Muslim population held eclipse prayers as a reminder of God’s majesty.
In East Timor, people gathered around the beach in Loutem municipality, waiting to see a rare solar eclipse through their eclipse glasses. Some of them came from other countries and gathered with local people to see the eclipse clearly.
“Timor Leste is one of the unique countries that experience low humidity, low cloudiness, so we expect clear skies, that’s why many international astronomers want to converge here. We hope for clear skies,” Zahri bin Ahmad of Brunei’s Southeast Asia Astronomical Network said as they waited on Thursday. .
People cheered as the sun and moon reached their maximum eclipse.
“This is a very new natural phenomenon for Timor-Leste. It’s very important for us to experience it firsthand,” said civil defense official Martinho Fatima.
The Hybrid solar eclipse Tracked from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific Ocean and was mostly over water. As the Sun peeked out from behind the new moon, a lucky few in its path saw the darkness or “ring of fire” of the total eclipse.
Such celestial events happen once every decade: the last one happened in 2013, and the next one isn’t until 2031. They occur when Earth is in its “sweet spot,” so the Moon and Sun are nearly the same size. sky, said NASA solar expert Michael Kirk.
At some points, the Moon is slightly closer and blocks the Sun in a total eclipse. But when the Moon is a little further away, it allows some of the Sun’s light to be seen in an annular eclipse.
“It’s a crazy event,” Kirk said. “You actually see the moon getting bigger in the sky.”
Many upcoming solar eclipses will be easy to catch. A Annular eclipse in mid-October and a total eclipse in April 2024 Both cross millions of people in the United States.
Burakoff reported from New York. Associated Press reporter Rod McCurg in Canberra, Australia, contributed to this report.
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