Science & Technology

Total solar eclipse darkens northwestern Australia

Sydney, Australia, Apr 20 (EFE).- For one minute a total solar eclipse made the day as dark as night Thursday in the small and remote town of Exmouth, in northwest Australia, one of the few places in the world where the phenomenon could be seen in full.

More than 20,000 people, according to public television channel ABC, traveled to Exmouth, a small town of about 3,000 inhabitants about 1,200 kilometers from Perth, with their telescopes, blankets and chairs to witness this event.

With clear skies, the culmination of the solar eclipse, which lasted about a minute, was observed in Exmouth at about 11:30 a.m. local time (3:30 GMT), according to a live broadcast from the Perth Observatory.

“It lasted about a minute but it felt longer,” Henry Throop, a NASA astronomer who flew from the United States to Exmouth, told ABC.

This astronomical event “was so sharp and bright. You could see the corona” of the sun as it was covered by the moon, the American expert added.

For his part, a Belgian fan, who said he had witnessed 24 eclipses in his life, said Thursday’s seemed “fantastic” because it allowed him to appreciate “the prominences of the chromosphere,” that is, the thin layer of the Sun’s atmosphere.

This eclipse, which occurs when the Sun, Moon, and Earth align so that the Moon covers the solar disk, caused the Moon to cast a shadow of about 40 kilometers across the Earth’s surface.

Although the solar eclipse observed in Exmouth was total, in other places in Australia, as well as Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and other Southeast Asian nations, the observation of the event was partial.

This rare astronomical phenomenon was also part of a “mixed” or “hybrid” eclipse – a term referring to a solar eclipse that is part of the time annular and part of the time total.

“In some areas (of Australia) there will be an annular eclipse and the Moon will be surrounded by a bright ring. In other areas, like the Ningaloo coast, there will be a total eclipse and you will see the faint corona of the Sun’s atmosphere,” said Mark Cheung, space and astronomy deputy director at the Australian government science body CSIRO. EFE


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