Thousands gather to witness rare hybrid solar eclipse that occurs every decade | tech news

The hybrid eclipse during its annular phase as seen from Exmouth, Western Australia

The hybrid eclipse during its annular phase as seen from Exmouth, Western Australia (Image: Reuters)

Thousands of spectators were treated to a rare hybrid solar darkness on Thursday, which plunged part of Australia’s north-west coast into brief midday darkness.

The remote tourist town of Exmouth, with a population of fewer than 3,000, has been touted as one of the best vantage points in Australia to view the eclipse, which also crossed remote parts of Indonesia and East Timor.

An international crowd had gathered for days, camping out in tents and trailers on a red, dusty plain on the outskirts of town, while cameras and other observation equipment were trained on the sky.

Nasa astronomer Henry Throop was among those at Exmouth who cheered loudly in the darkness as the temperature momentarily dropped to 5C.

“Isn’t it incredible? It’s so fantastic,” he said. “It was overwhelming. It was so sharp and it was so bright. There you could see the corona around the sun.

“It’s only a minute long, but it really felt like a long time. There is nothing else to see what looks like. It was great. Spectacular.

Spectators from around the world gathered to watch today's hybrid solar eclipse

Spectators from around the world gathered to watch today’s hybrid solar eclipse (Image: EPA)

SURABAYA, INDONESIA - APRIL 20: The Sun is seen emerging from a hybrid solar eclipse on April 20, 2023 in Surabaya, Indonesia in this composite image. A hybrid solar eclipse is a combination of partial solar eclipse, annular solar eclipse and total solar eclipse. Of the 224 eclipses marked for the 21st century, only seven will be hybrid eclipses. This rare heavenly event coincided with Eid-Ul-Fitr. (Photo by Robertus Pudyanto/Getty Images)

The moon casts its shadow as it passes between the sun and earth (Picture: Getty)

“And then you could see Jupiter and Mercury and see them at the same time during the day — even seeing Mercury at all is pretty rare.” That was just great.’

Eclipses occur twice a year, but in different forms. Today’s event was a particularly rare hybrid eclipse, meaning it moved from a total eclipse, where the moon completely blocks the sun, to an annular eclipse — also known as the “ring of fire” eclipse — where the corona the sun forms a dazzling ring around the moon.

Julie Copson, who traveled more than 600 miles north to Exmouth from Australia’s west coast port city of Fremantle, said the phenomenon made her skin tingle.

“I feel so emotional like I could cry,” Ms Copson said. ‘The color changed and [I could see] Corona and solar flares.

“It was very strong and the temperature dropped so much.”

Today's hybrid solar eclipse is particularly rare

Today’s hybrid eclipse is particularly rare (Image: AP)

The eclipse was visible in parts of Australia and Indonesia - but mostly moved across the Indian and Pacific Oceans

The eclipse was visible in parts of Australia and Indonesia – but mostly moved across the Indian and Pacific Oceans (Image: Reuters)

In Indonesia’s capital, hundreds went to the Jakarta Planetarium to watch the partial solar eclipse, which was obscured by clouds.

Azka Azzahra, 21, came with her sister and friends to get a closer look, using the telescopes with hundreds of other visitors.

“I’m still happy even though it’s cloudy,” Ms. Azzahra said. “It’s nice to see how excited people are coming here to see the eclipse because it’s rare.”

Hybrid eclipses are indeed rare – the next will not be seen until 2031, sweeping mostly across the Pacific but visible in Central and South America – with a partial eclipse also visible in North America.

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Justin Scaccy

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