Watching Cairns Solar Eclipse 2012

It has been a long time since we planned to be in Cairns on 14 November 2012. Why? Because Cairns and Great Barrier Reef region is the only place in the world where the total solar eclipse can be seen on 14 November. Although, after having read this article, you will understand that Cairns was not the best place to see it... Seeing this natural phenomenon is rare, especially from land. It is only the eighth total eclipse of the twenty-first century. It is supposed to be visible along a strip of land about 200 kilometres wide which crosses the top of eastern Australia and the Coral Sea. Many eclipse-watchers took a flight to Cairns from all over the world. We are talking about 70,000 people coming for a two minutes glory of darkness. Special events such as Eclipse 2012, a huge hippie festival, and the Solar Eclipse Marathon in Port Douglas have been planned in the area to celebrate. But wait a minute, the sky is heavily overcast in Cairns! It might be 5 or 6 in the morning but the clouds are already up (are Mayans behind this one too?). Not the kind of eclipse we were expecting. We thought that a solar eclipse occurs when the Moon (not the clouds) passes in front of the Sun. Suddenly, a break in the clouds. We can see for the first (and the last) time the dark disk of the Moon obscuring the intensely bright light of the Sun. Asian tourists are hysterical and engage in an "Eclipse Style" dance (a dubious variation of Gangnam Style). A few minutes later, we experience a magic moment when the eclipse reaches its totality (even if we can not see it directly). It looks like someone somewhere just turned the light off. At this particular moment we understand why seeing a solar eclipse is an extraordinary privilege. Total darkness. Birds are lost. Then a few minutes later, they start to sing like they do in the morning. It is dawn again and the day can actually begin. So when is the next eclipse? 20 March 2015.

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