perfect view of eclipse in Far North Queensland

Discussion in 'Indo Pacific & East Asia' started by SajeevJino, Nov 14, 2012.

  1. SajeevJino

    SajeevJino Long walk Elite Member

    Feb 21, 2012
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    Inside a Cage
    huge crowds enjoy perfect view of eclipse in Far North Queensland

    First eclipse in Australia since 2002, last until 2028 Crowds line beaches and hillside lookouts in FNQ All of eastern Australia experiences partial eclipse

    AND suddenly the heavens were open and unfastened. Thousands lining beaches and lookouts in Cairns and Port Douglas burst into cheers and tears as a total solar eclipse plunged Queensland's far north into darkness at 6.39am.

    For two minutes time stood still as an eerie, unearthly glow - the colour of indigo - fell over the tropical coast.

    Viewers had been promised that day would turn to night, but the speed of the switch left many gobsmacked.

    "It was breathtaking," said tourist Ann Lucey, a nurse in her mid-fifities from Florida in the United States.

    "I felt my heart skip a few beats, felt myself clapping, I was just breathless in awe."

    Huge dark storm clouds taunted onlookers as patches of light played across the Coral Sea, giving odd scant glimpses of a red crescent sun in the partial eclipse phase.

    "That big cloud hung about like a bad smell," said Swiss eclipse chaser Barbara Vonarburg, 56, a television science program presenter, on Trinity Beach.

    "It was like someone said, "No, I'm not going to show it to you"," she said.

    Many of the heavily equipped amateur astronomers, out to get that trademark shot of the "Eye of God" with pink geysers of nuclear fire visible in the corona surrounding the black disc of the moon, felt disappointed.

    "When the light of the sun did come back to Earth, I felt tears of thanks in my eye," said the Swiss.

    "Imagine if it didn't?

    Light spilled back to Earth, visible as illuminated fingers in the cloud, as the camera flashes of an estimated 60,000 tourists and locals rippled along the coastline in a 170km-wide band of moon shadow.

    Forty hot air balloons filled the sky over the Atherton Tablelands and a flotilla of sailboats, superyachts, runabouts and four cruise liners dotted the waters of the inner Great Barrier Reef.

    "It is like everyone had come down to watch the End of the World," said Dr Natalie Dillon, a scientist in Mareeba.

    "When it goes dark and the temperature drops, you get a sense of the fragility of life.

    "I just feel in awe. It is like the Moon has wiped a cloth over the face of the Sun and we can start afresh.

    She said the moment of totality was a glimpse into the start of the Ice Age.

    "It shows how the Sun is the reason life exists on earth. Too much closer and we'd burn. Too much further away and we'd freeze.

    "For a moment, you get a sense of what it felt like when the dinosaurs went extinct as the cloud of a meteorite storm obscured the sun and plunged Earth into an Ice Age."

    Japanese tourist Hiroaki Kondo, 28, was one onboard four charter flights out of Japan to come to Cairns for the total solar eclipse.

    "I feel so excited," he said.

    "Everything was so surreal

    Dr Stuart Ryder, from the Australian Astronomical Observatory, said it took the moon about an hour to pass from first contact, when it begins to cross the sun's path, to totality, when the sun is completely obscured.

    During those few minutes of totality, it looks like a moonlit night.

    Indigenous astronomy expert Duane Hamacher was up on a hilltop near the Cairns Airport to watch the celestial spectacle.

    "This is spectacular," Mr Hamacher said.

    Many indigenous groups, including in Arnhem Land were watching the event which has deep spiritual meaning for them.

    "Most Aboriginal cultures believe the sun is female and the moon is male," Mr Hamacher said.

    "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.

    "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 next solar eclipse to be visible from Australia is expected in May next year, but it will only be an annular eclipse (where the sun is still visible around the edges of the moon).


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