JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Under cloudless skies, about 20,000 eclipse chasers watched a rare solar eclipse plunge Australia’s northwest coast into darkness in the brief midday hours 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, camped out in tents and trailers, on a red, dusty plain at the edge of town with cameras and other viewing equipment pointed 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.
Julie Copson, who traveled more than 1,000 km (600 miles) from the Australian west coast port city of Fremantle north to Exmouth, said the event made her skin crawl.
“I’m so emotional, like I’m 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, referring to a sudden temperature drop of 5 degrees Celsius (9 degrees Fahrenheit) as the moon’s shadow enveloped the region.
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 when the eclipse phase began as Muslims performed the eclipse prayer as a reminder of God’s greatness.
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.
Celestial events like this happen once every decade: the last happened in 2013, and the next 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 A total eclipse in mid-October and next April Both cross millions of people in the United States.
Burakoff reported from New York. Associated Press reporter Rod McGuirk in Canberra, Australia, contributed to this report.
The Associated Press receives support from the Health and Science Department of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Education Media Group. AP is solely responsible for all content.