Rare event turns eyes skyward

By Vaimoana Tapaleao, Paul Harper

Moon's brief power to eclipse sun brings thousands out into dimmed morning light.

Nine-year-old Pranav Budhwar (right) and classmates were at Auckland's Stardome for the eclipse. Photo / Greg Bowker
Nine-year-old Pranav Budhwar (right) and classmates were at Auckland's Stardome for the eclipse. Photo / Greg Bowker

Those who missed yesterday's eclipse will have to wait another 16 years to catch a glimpse of it in New Zealand again.

People around the country were treated to varying degrees of a rare sight in the morning, when a partial eclipse of the sun changed the skies.

The phenomenon is caused by the moon passing directly between the Earth and the sun.

It reached its maximum about 10.21am at North Cape - with about 91 per cent of the sun obscured - and delighted both young and old who had either taken a break from work or were briefly allowed out of class to see the event.

Further south, 87 per cent of the sun was obscured at 10.27am in Auckland, while 76 per cent was obscured at 10.34am for sky-gazers in Wellington. By 10.34am in Christchurch, 68 per cent of the sun was covered by the moon.

Jo Creagh, marketing manager at Stardome Observatory in Auckland, said hundreds of people gathered at the observatory - either viewing the eclipse in the courtyard through solar eclipse glasses, or through telescopes fitted with solar filters.

"We sold out of glasses due to the demand," she said.

Despite the occasional passing cloud, Ms Creagh said the weather had been very good.

Many people posted photographs of the phenomenon on social networking sites Twitter and Facebook.

The last total solar eclipse visible from New Zealand was in the Far North in 1965. The next similar one to be seen here is expected in 2028.

The event brought millions of people around the world outside, as a partial eclipse was also seen in eastern Indonesia and parts of Australia. Viewers in Queensland had a treat as they were in one of the best positions on the path of the eclipse across Earth's surface.

They experienced an almost total eclipse as parts of Queensland plunged into darkness for two minutes as the moon passed over the sun.

- NZ Herald

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