As the sun rises over much of Australia, towns in the northeastern part of the country are preparing to be plunged right back into darkness. Tens of thousands have gathered in the cities of Cairns and Port Douglas to await the first solar eclipse the area has seen in a decade. When the moon passes between the sun and the Earth just after daybreak Wednesday in Queensland, the full eclipse will be visible across a 95-mile (150-km) swath of land.
It began at 5:45 a.m. Queensland time (15 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time), with the full eclipse expected at 6:38 a.m., with the view sun from Earth completely obscured by the Moon. But blink and you’ll miss it — the total eclipse is expected to last just two minutes. While as many as 60,000 have gathered in the remote part in the nation’s northeast to eagerly watch the eclipse, scientists are keeping close tabs on the animal kingdom. Animal experts note the sudden lack of sunlight could confuse sea creatures in the Great Barrier Reef, so they’ve set up underwater cameras to monitor the reaction of sealife. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, an eclipse last occurred over this part of Australia in the year 710, and there won’t be another one for 225 years.
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The rest of Australia won’t experience the total eclipse, but instead a partial one, also visible in New Zealand and parts of Indonesia. It might even be a bust in the cities expecting the eclipse — weather reports for Wednesday morning called for cloudy skies over Queensland.
If, like most of the world, you don’t currently find yourself in one of the remote towns adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef, you can catch the action online via live streaming video above, and at the Slooh online space camera at Slooh.com.