Australian sky-gazers in awe of rare total eclipse

Tens of thousands of sky-gazers flocked to Australia's tropical north Wednesday to watch the moon block out the sun in one of nature's greatest phenomena -- a total solar eclipse.

All eyes and cameras turned to the heavens as the clouds parted over the state of Queensland and the moon slowly moved between the Earth and the sun, creating a missing "bite" that gradually increased in size.

Clouds had threatened to spoil the party and huge cheers erupted when they cleared to give awe-struck eclipse hunters a perfect view of totality -- when the moon completely covers the sun and a faint halo or corona appears.

"Wow, insects and birds gone quiet," one tourist, Geoff Scott, tweeted. Another, Stuart Clark, said: "This it it. Totality now. Utterly beautiful."

The path of the eclipse got under way shortly after daybreak when the moon's shadow, or umbra, fell in the Garig Gunak Barlu National Park in the Northern Territory, about 250 kilometres (155 miles) east of Darwin.

The umbra then moved eastward before hitting north Queensland -- one of the few places it could be viewed by humans and where tourists and scientists gathered to witness the region's first total solar eclipse in 1,300 years.

Totality lasted just over two minutes from 6.38am (2038 GMT Tuesday), with eclipse watchers donning special glasses to protect their eyes.

When it happened the early chatter of birds and animals was replaced by an eerie silence as the moon overtook the sun, casting a shadow that plunged the land into darkness, with temperatures dropping.

"Day into night, unbelievable, goosebumps, speechless, amazing," said Palm Cove eclipse watcher Simon Crerar.

The rare spectacle drew crowds of tourists, with the Queensland state government estimating that 50,000-60,000 people made the trip.

They included three charter flights with 1,200 scientists from Japan while six cruise ships were moored off the coast and hot air balloons dotted the skies.

While certain cultures see eclipses as somehow magical, Fred Espenak, an American astrophysicist and world authority on eclipses, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that they can be predicted with pinpoint accuracy.

"Certainly within 100 to 200 years we can predict when an eclipse will occur to within a second," he said.

"But the pattern of occurrence is a complicated one. They don't repeat on a time schedule like the seasons of the year."

He explained that when a total eclipse occurred "the darkest part of the moon's shadow sweeps across the earth's surface".

"Total solar eclipses occur once every one to two years but are only visible from less than half a percent of the earth's surface," he said.

Scientists were studying the effects of the eclipse on the marine life of the Great Barrier Reef and Queensland's rainforest birds and animals while psychologists were monitoring the impact on humans.

Eclipses have deep spiritual meaning for Aborigines, with the moon often seen as a man and the sun as a woman.

"Some believe the sun is in love with the man but he does not reciprocate these feelings so the sun chases him around the sky," said Duane Hamacher, an expert on Aboriginal astronomy who watched the spectacle from Cairns.

"On rare occasions, she manages to grab him and in a jealous rage tries to kill him but he convinces the spirits that hold up the sky to save him, which they do."

The last total eclipse was on July 11, 2010, again over the South Pacific. The next will take place on March 20, 2015, occurring over Iceland, the Faroe Islands and Norway's far northern Svalbard archipelago, according to Espenak.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • China says U.S. actions in S.China Sea "irresponsible, dangerous"
    China says U.S. actions in S.China Sea "irresponsible, dangerous"

    By Sui-Lee Wee BEIJING (Reuters) - China said on Friday it was "strongly dissatisfied" after a U.S. military plane flew over part of the South China Sea near where China is building artificial islands, and called on the United States to stop such action or risk causing an accident. The Chinese navy issued eight warnings to the U.S. P8-A Poseidon, the U.S. military's most advanced surveillance aircraft, when it conducted the overflights on Wednesday, according to CNN, which had a team on board …

  • 2015 Hyundai Lateral Drift goes to Philippine Arena
    2015 Hyundai Lateral Drift goes to Philippine Arena

    The smell of burnt rubber and screeching tires are some of the highlights that will be seen at the most adrenaline-pumped drifting event of the year—the 2015 Hyundai Lateral Drift Championship series.   Held at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan, the event will be the biggest venue in the drifting competition. This is the […] The post 2015 Hyundai Lateral Drift goes to Philippine Arena appeared first on Carmudi Philippines. …

  • The Richest Senators In The Philippines
    The Richest Senators In The Philippines

    The 2014 Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth for politicians and public servants are now available for anyone to … The post The Richest Senators In The Philippines appeared first on iMoney.ph. …

  • PHILIPPINES PRESS-AirAsia Philippines seeks $500 mln valuation for IPO - Inquirer

    The Philippine unit of Malaysian budget carrier AirAsia Berhad is seeking a valuation of at least $500 million for its initial public offering set within the next two years, the Philippine Daily Inquirer ... …

  • Consultant, facing joblessness, claims P5.9-M lotto pot
    Consultant, facing joblessness, claims P5.9-M lotto pot

    A 39-year-old information technology consultant, whose job contract will expire this month, has claimed his share of the 6/45 Mega Lotto’s P17.8-million jackpot in its May 13 draw, the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) announced yesterday. “I could not sleep for the past several days, thinking about where I could get the money to pay my children’s tuition,” the winner told PCSO general manager Jose Ferdinand Rojas II when he received a check for P5.9 million at the PCSO’s central …

  • Cager’s daughter: I will never drive again
    Cager’s daughter: I will never drive again

    Kim Asaytono vowed never to get behind the wheel again after she hit 14 people on Tuesday night and killed one of them. Even if she gets out of jail one day, the 22-year-old daughter of former Philippine Basketball Association player Nelson Asaytono said she no longer wants to drive. Maybe, I will still ride a car but I will never drive again,” she told The STAR in an interview in her jail cell at the Manila Police District headquarters. …

  • Disaster center to rise in Clark
    Disaster center to rise in Clark

    The private sector is set to build a disaster operations center near Clark international airport in Pampanga to strengthen the country’s preparedness against natural calamities. In his closing remarks during a two-day Earthquake Resilience Conference, businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan said yesterday the Philippine Disaster Recovery Foundation (PDRF) would build the center that would serve as base for immediate response to a disaster. Pangilinan, co-chair of the PDRF, said the disaster …

  • China shoos away US plane in disputed sea
    China shoos away US plane in disputed sea

    The Chinese navy warned a US surveillance plane flying over artificial islands that Beijing is creating in the disputed South China Sea to leave the area eight times, according to CNN, which was on board the flight on Wednesday. The P8-A Poseidon, the US military’s most advanced surveillance aircraft, flew at 4,500 meters at its lowest point, CNN said. The incident, along with recent Chinese warnings to Philippine military aircraft to leave areas around the Spratly archipelago in the South …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options