Total eclipse: Indonesia witnesses totality as Sun is blocked by the Moon


The eclipse as seen from Belitung, Indonesia
Image captionBelitung in Indonesia was the best place to witness the total solar eclipse

Millions of people across Indonesia and the Pacific have experienced a total solar eclipse, with parts of the region falling into complete darkness.

The eclipse began at 06:19 local time (23:19 GMT Tuesday) as the Moon started to pass directly in front of the Sun.

As the eclipse reached totality, the Moon blocked all direct sunlight, turning day into night.

In Indonesia’s Belitung province, a crowd gathered on a beach and witnesses spoke of a “magical” experience.

In pictures: Indonesia’s three minutes of darkness

The eclipse was total in much of Indonesia and the Central Pacific, while parts of Australia and Asia experienced a partial one.

Astronomers reiterated advice not to look directly at the Sun with the naked eye, or through a telescope. Experts recommended using either a professional solar filter in front of a telescope or camera, or special eclipse-viewing glasses.

The total eclipse began at 00:15 GMT, with the moment of maximum shadow at 01:59 GMT. The celestial event will end at sunset, local time, north of Hawaii (04:34 GMT).

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People watch the solar eclipse on Olivier beach, Belitung
Image captionPeople watch the solar eclipse on Olivier beach, Belitung
A partial solar eclipse is seen on the Independence monument in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 09 March 2016.Image copyrightEuropean Photopress Agency
Image captionCambodia was among the Asian countries that saw a partial eclipse
A child with special goggles on, in IndonesiaImage copyrightReuters
Image captionViewers were advised to wear special glasses before looking at the sun
People taking pictures of the eclipse with their phones, on Ternate island, IndonesiaImage copyrightReuters
Image captionIn Indonesia, crowds gathered at viewing points to witness the eclipse as it happened

What was the eclipse like? Ging Ginanjar, BBC Indonesian

Belitung, Indonesia, was one of the best places to view the total solar eclipse.

From before dawn, about 200 people gathered at Olivier beach to watch. About 30 foreigners were in the crowd, travelling from Australia and Europe to see it.

One of them was Wilma from Holland, who is a solar eclipse hunter and has seen the solar eclipse five times. She said that when the eclipse started an overwhelming feeling of peace came over her and she heard no sounds. It was a magical experience she said.

When the solar eclipse started the crowd cheered and then went silent in awe. People were taking photos while others just watched in amazement. Then when it finished people clapped quietly. It was an incredible experience, our correspondent said.

Across the island other people prayed in mosques, churches and temples.

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