Thousands of eclipse-watchers have gathered in part of North Queensland to enjoy the solar eclipse, the first in Australia in a decade. Photo by Getty
Thousands of spectators in north Queensland have witnessed
Australia's first total solar eclipse in a decade.
For two minutes, shortly before 6am (AEST) today, north
Queensland went from day to night as the sun, moon and earth
aligned to create a spectacular sight.
It was the first full solar eclipse visible from Australia
since 2002 - and that was only in the nation's south.
About 60,000 people travelled to Cairns and parts north to
watch the solar spectacle.
Hot air balloons full of astronomy lovers dotted north
Astronomical Association of Queensland spokesman Terry Cuttle
told AAP it was one of the most spectacular eclipses he has
"There was cloud cover during the first part of the eclipse
but the sun broke through just as the eclipse reached
totality," Mr Cuttle said.
"It was quite a sight. It's one of the best."
Spectator Ben Woodward said the temperature dropped, the sky
went darker and birds went quiet when the eclipse reached
"It was an eerie feeling and the temperature dropped but the
sky didn't go completely dark. It looked like dusk," Mr
Woodward, from Cairns Wildlife Dome, told AAP.
"The view was obstructed by a large cloud but there were
moments where you could see the eclipse occurring."
He said a lot of cameras had been positioned in the wildlife
park to record how the animals reacted.
"Several wildlife keepers have said a lot of the birds fell
The eclipse was visible from a narrow strip, known as the
path of totality, starting in Kakadu National Park, passing
over far north Queensland and the South Pacific, finishing
just off the coast of Chile.
The eclipse was over around 7.40am (AEST) in Cairns.
Many indigenous groups, including in Arnhem Land, were
watching the event which has deep spiritual meaning for them.
Indigenous astronomy expert Duane Hamacher was up on a
hilltop near the Cairns Airport to watch the celestial
"Most Aboriginal cultures believe the sun is female and the
moon is male," Mr Hamacher told AAP.
"Some believe the sun is in love with the man but he does not
reciprocate these feelings so the sun chases him around the
"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