Ternate: A total solar eclipse swept across the vast Indonesian archipelago today, marked by ecstatic sky gazers cheering the spectacle, devout Muslims kneeling in prayer and tribes people performing rituals.

The moon began to move between the Earth and sun at 6:19 am (2319 GMT Tuesday), and about an hour later a total eclipse became visible in western parts of the country.

The sun then went entirely dark in a broad arc right across the country, to the eastern Maluku Islands, before the eclipse swept out across the Pacific Ocean.

Partial eclipses were also visible over other parts of Asia and Australia, with schoolchildren in Kuala Lumpur donning special eclipse-viewing glasses to watch the spectacle and crowds gathering early in Singapore to witness the phenomenon.

Tens of thousands of foreign and Indonesian tourists have flocked to the best viewing spots, and special events were organised, from a festival to fun runs and dragon boat races.

"It was spectacular," said Daniel Orange, a 52-year-old American tourist from California, who was watching the total eclipse on the small western island of Belitung.

"It was very beautiful, there are a lot of people here and when the totality hit, everybody cheered. I got goose bumps."

In the popular viewing spot of Ternate, in the Malukus, thousands of people watching the spectacle on a beach cheered loudly and yelled "Glory to God".

On an island in the Mentawai chain, off Indonesia's main western island of Sumatra, hundreds cheered, prayed and hugged one another as the moon blocked out the sun.

In Singapore a crowd of about 400 people, including students and families, gathered at a university sports field to watch the partial eclipse, while groups of enthusiasts also converged on beaches and outside their highrise apartments to gaze upwards.

Many came early with their cameras, long-range telescopes, and sunglasses.    For some of Indonesia's tribes, the eclipse is viewed with apprehension. In Palangkaraya, on Borneo island, Dayak tribesmen performed a special ritual to ensure that the sun, which they view as the source of life, did not disappear entirely.

In pics: Total solar eclipse in Indonesia

Also read: Partial solar eclipse witnessed in Guwahati, Bhubaneswar and Hyderabad

Latest News from World News Desk

 

 

Solar eclipse begins sweeping across Indonesia

 

Ternate (Indonesia): A solar eclipse began sweeping across the vast Indonesian archipelago today, with hordes of sky gazers set to watch the spectacle, which will be marked by parties, prayers and tribal rituals.

 

The moon began to move between the Earth and sun at 6.19 am, the official Meteorology, Climate and Geophysics Agency said.

 

A rare total solar eclipse will be visible in a broad arc across the country about an hour later. All direct sunlight will be blocked for a short time from the western island of Sumatra, to the spice-fringed Maluku Islands thousands of miles to the east, before the total eclipse sweeps out across the Pacific Ocean.

 

From a festival featuring live bands, to fun runs and traditional dances, events are being organised across the country for an estimated 10,000 foreign visitors and 100,000 domestic tourists who will be witnessing the phenomenon.

 

Hotels in the best viewing spots filled up weeks ago – in the city of Ternate, in the Maluku Islands, officials have had to find extra space for tourists on boats.

 

"It's an extraordinary spectacle that only takes place about once a year in one part of the world," said Arnaud Fischer, a 33-year-old French tourist, who has witnessed several eclipses and was set to watch today's in Ternate.

 

I Gde Pitana, the government's head of foreign tourism, described the phenomenon as "a tourism attraction created by God".

 

However there are concerns that clouds could obscure the view in some places, as it is currently the wet season in Indonesia.

 

It will be a deeply spiritual experience for many in the world's most populous Muslim-majority country, with the faithful being urged by Islamic authorities to perform special eclipse prayers.

 

"Our Prophet Mohammed said the prayer signifies the greatness of Allah, who created this wonderful phenomenon," said Ma'ruf Amin, chairman of the Indonesian Ulema Council, the country's top Islamic clerical body.

 

Some of Indonesia's tribes people are fearful of the phenomenon, however. Members of the Dayak tribe in one part of Borneo island will perform a ritual to ensure that the sun, which they view as the source of life, does not disappear entirely.

 

The total eclipse will sweep across 12 out of 34 provinces in Indonesia, which stretches about 3,000 miles (5,000 kilometres) from east to west, before heading across the Pacific Ocean.