Clouds part, solar eclipse darkens north Australia



KRISTEN GELINEAU | AP

Published — Wednesday 14 November 2012

Last update 14 November 2012 2:56 pm

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

SYDNEY: 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 as the sun, moon and Earth aligned and plunged northern Australia into darkness during a total solar eclipse Wednesday.
Stubborn clouds that many feared would ruin the view parted — somewhat — in north Queensland, defying forecasts of a total eclipse-viewing bust and relieving spectators who had fanned out to glimpse the celestial phenomenon.
“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. It really adds to the drama of it.”
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.
Starting just after dawn, the eclipse cast its 150-kilometer (95-mile) shadow in Australia’s Northern Territory, crossed the northeast tip of the country and was swooping east across the South Pacific, where no islands are in its direct path. A partial eclipse was 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 in the parts of Australia where it was visible.
Gloomy weather had left many eclipse-chasers who had traveled to Australia from around the globe anxious that they wouldn’t be able to see a thing. But the clouds moved in time for many to watch as the moon blotted out the sun’s rays and cast a shadow over the tropical landscape.
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.”
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 along palm-fringed beaches, fields and clifftops to watch the event through protective viewing glasses and homemade pinhole cameras that projected the sun’s image onto makeshift screens. Fitness fanatics gathered for the Solar Eclipse Marathon, where the first rays of the sun re-emerging from behind the moon was the starting gun. Some began partying days ago at a weeklong eclipse festival.
Scientists were studying how animals respond to the eclipse, with underwater cameras capturing the effects of sudden darkness on the creatures of the Great Barrier Reef.
The next total solar eclipse won’t happen until March 2015.

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH: The Ministry of Education is planning to increase the role of its subsidiary committees in the region and governorates to address the issue of schools increasing the fees on one pretext or another.A source in the ministry has been quoted as s...
JEDDAH: In view of a delay by Twitter in blocking the accounts of Daesh and its supporters, Saudi Twitterati have launched an online campaign demanding closure of these accounts which are being used to spread terror by those who have links with the...
JEDDAH: A young Saudi, who was born disabled, is today considered the best and most famous painter and designer in the Kingdom, professionals working in the area say.Despite being handicapped by birth, Rakan Kurdi, 22, has never given up and has mana...
DAMMAM: All Saudi airports, particularly King Fahd International Airport (KFIA) in Dammam, lack a tourism attraction strategy which requires a formal decision from the government, said Saeed Al-Qahtani, an investor in the tourism sector.He said: “In...
JEDDAH: Interpol is looking for two Saudis — a former Jeddah mayor and former president of a sports club — who have been convicted in cases related to the 2009 flash floods here.The ex-mayor was sentenced to seven years in prison while the sports off...
RIYADH: The Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) recently discussed here the scope of cooperation with the Kingdom’s Public Education Evaluation Commission (PEEC) in the field of education.The delegation was headed...
RIYADH: Investors and proprietors of recruitment offices have blamed the Ministry of Labor for the rise in the number of illegal brokers, saying that some of the rules are actually counterproductive and promoting black market.The ministry has put a c...
DAMMAM: A period of 20 months will be granted to deliver residential apartments for beneficiaries in the Eastern Province, starting from the day of delivering land to developers, and not from the date of signing the contract with them, according to a...
ALKHOBAR: Bribery can be eliminated by applying the laws strictly and creating public awareness besides an active role by citizens, experts say.Abdulrahman Al-Zahian, a researcher in legal affairs and public policy, said: “The Saudi anti-bribery law...
JEDDAH: Zuhair Rahbeeni, a consultant at the Pediatric and Clinical Genetics Department of Medical Genetics at King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center, said that the criteria used for premarital health examinations fall short of proper st...
JEDDAH: The police in Jeddah found a runaway girl after 17 days. A news website reported that she had gone missing after she took a taxi on one of Jeddah's roads.The mother of the girl said that the police found the girl on Friday after 17 days. She...
JEDDAH: Since the launch of the Asir Initiative, “Asir … a major tourism destination all year round,” under the patronage of Asir Governor and Chairman of the Tourism Development Council Prince Faisal bin Khalid at the end of 2013, the region has man...
RIYADH: King Saud University (KSU), which is leading the vanguard in promoting and supporting scientific research in the Kingdom, will host the Saudi international conference on scientific publishing for 2015 to discuss issues and challenges surround...
RIYADH: The National Committee for Contractors (NCC) at the Council of Saudi Chambers (CSC) and representatives from the Ministry of Labor denied on Sunday delays in releasing SR2,400 in compensation to contractors once the criteria have been finaliz...
MAKKAH: Being at the front of the House of God and the peace and tranquility in the Grand Mosque are feelings that cannot be described, said Egyptian pilgrim Abdul Rahman Mustafa.The Umrah pilgrim appeared to be very happy and content. “Thank God, I...

Stay Connected

Facebook