JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Under cloudless skies, 20,000 eclipse chasers crowded into a small outpost to watch a rare solar eclipse plunge a portion of Australia’s northwest coast into brief midday darkness Thursday while temporarily cooling the tropical heat.
The remote tourist town of Exmouth, with a population of fewer than 3,000, has been touted as one of Australia’s favorite spots for viewing the eclipse, which also crossed remote parts of Indonesia and East Timor.
An international crowd had been gathering for days, camped out in tents and trailers on a red, dusty plain on the edge of town with cameras and other viewing equipment pointed skyward.
NASA astronomer Henry Thrupp was among those in Exmouth cheering loudly in the darkness.
“Isn’t it incredible? That’s so cool. It was amazing. It was so sharp and it was so bright. You can see the corona around the Sun over there,” said the Washington resident, visibly excited.
“It’s only a minute, but it really felt like a long time. There’s nothing else you can see like it. It was just amazing. Amazing. And then you can see Jupiter and Mercury and be able to see them at the same time during the day — even seeing Mercury is a rarity.” “It was amazing,” Thrupp added.
First-time eclipse chaser Julie Cobson, who traveled more than 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) north from the western Australian coastal city of Fremantle to Exmouth, said the phenomenon left her skin tingling.
“I feel so emotional, it’s like I’m crying. The color change and seeing the corona and sun flares…” Cobson said.
“It was very strong and the temperature dropped a lot,” she added, referring to a sudden drop in temperature of 5 degrees Celsius (9 degrees Fahrenheit) from 29 degrees Celsius (84 degrees Fahrenheit) when the moon’s shadow covered the area. .
It was the fifth eclipse for Detroit resident Shane Varty, who began planning his Exmouth trip a year ago.
“It’s very exciting. All that effort has paid off,” Varty said.
In the Indonesian capital, hundreds came to the Jakarta Planetarium to watch the partial eclipse, which was obscured by clouds.
Azka Al-Zahraa, 21, came with her sister and friends to get a closer look using telescopes along with hundreds of other visitors.
“I’m still happy to come even though it’s cloudy. We’re happy to see how excited people come here to watch the eclipse, because it happens so rarely,” Zahraa said.
The call to prayer echoed from the city’s mosques when the eclipse phase began, as Muslims in the country that has the largest number of Muslims in the world said the eclipse prayer as a reminder of God’s greatness.
In East Timor, people gathered around the beach in the municipality of Lautim, waiting to witness a rare solar eclipse through eclipse glasses. Some of them came from other countries and gathered with the locals to get a clear view of the eclipse.
“Timor is not one of the unique countries where the experience is less humid and less cloudy, so we expect clear skies, which is why many international astronomers like to meet here. Dhahri Bin Ahmed, an astronomy enthusiast from the Southeast Asian Astronomy Network in Brunei, said, As they wait for Thursday, “we hope there will be clear skies.”
People cheered when the sun and moon reached the maximum eclipse.
“This is a very new natural phenomenon for Timor-Leste. It is very important for us to be able to witness it and experience it firsthand,” said Martinho Fatima, an officer of the Civil Protection Authority.
the Hybrid solar eclipse It was traced from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific Ocean and was mostly over water. The lucky few on their way either saw the darkness of the total eclipse or a “ring of fire” as the sun peeked out from behind the new moon.
Such celestial events happen about once every decade: most recently in 2013 and the next decade until 2031. They happen when Earth is in its “sweet spot,” so the moon and sun are about the same size in space, said NASA solar expert Michael Kirk. .
At some points, the moon is a little closer and blocks the sun in a total eclipse. But when the moon is a little further away, it lets some sunlight through the annular eclipse.
“It’s a crazy phenomenon,” Kirk said. “You are actually watching the moon get bigger in the sky.”
It will be easy to catch the many upcoming solar eclipses. that annular eclipse in mid-October and a total eclipse in April 2024 Both will pass through millions of people in the Americas.
Burakoff reported from New York. AP reporter Rod McGuirk in Canberra, Australia contributed to this reporting.
The Associated Press Health and Science section receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Education Media group. AP is solely responsible for all content.
. “Proud zombie lover. Evil pop culture buff. Amateur thinker. Total food practitioner. Tv evangelist.”