Solar Eclipse: Thousands flock to a remote Australian town for a rare celestial event

  • By Tiffany Turnbull
  • BBC News, Sydney

A rare solar eclipse has thrilled thousands of people who flocked to a remote Australian town in search of the best vantage point on earth to witness it.

The sky over Exmouth in Western Australia turned dark for about 60 seconds on Thursday, when the moon cast a shadow over the area 40 km wide.

The total solar eclipse was part of a rare hybrid eclipse, which only happens a few times per century.

A partial eclipse was also visible across other parts of Asia and the Pacific.

This eclipse began in the Indian Ocean at sunrise and ends at sunset in the Pacific Ocean, where observers at different points in the path of the eclipse can see its different phases – or hybrids -.

Some saw a total eclipse of the sun. Others have seen what’s known as an annular solar eclipse – where the moon is too small to completely block the sun – or a partial eclipse.

People who live in Western Australia, East Timor, and West Papua have the best views.

But only those on the Exmouth Peninsula can experience the total solar eclipse, at 11:27 local time (04:27 GMT).

The reef-side tourist town – 1,200 km (745 mi) north of Perth – is usually home to fewer than 3,000 people. But its population has multiplied sevenfold with all the stargazers making their temporary home.

Henry, who had flown in from the United States, told ABC News the event was “amazing”.

“It’s only a minute, but it really felt like a long time. There’s nothing else you can see that sounds like that,” he said.

Perth schoolgirl Georgie Gibbs described standing in the moon’s shadow as strange.

“It’s surreal,” she told the Australian Associated Press. “It feels like a dream come true.”

The last hybrid solar eclipse was in November 2013, and NASA expects another eclipse in 2031.

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