Toner Stevenson, past manager Sydney Observatory and member of the Sydney City Skywatchers was in Indonesia for the recent solar eclipse.
Crowd goes wild in darkness!
We woke at 5am to see a spectacular early morning sky full of stars, the planet Jupiter and the Milky Way. The Southern Cross and Scorpius were easily viewed in the South. The clear sky was soon to change!
The eclipse began at 8:36am local time, from 8am there had been complete cloud cover. We managed to get a signal and viewed the first contact via YouTube from Slooh who were stationed in Pulau, Sulawesi and had a perfectly clear sky. At 8:30 it began to rain, and then it poured. It was depressing to see all the telescopes with covers on and we moved the solar scopes under cover. The Langitselatan team, students and families huddled under the schoolhouse awnings.
A small hole appeared and we raced out with our glasses at 9:23am to see a partial eclipse phase with Moon covering about 75% of the Sun. Unfortunately the hole did not last long and whilst adults and children whooped as darkness descended we could not see totality until, at the very end, a bright diamond ring appeared through the cloud as a very bright burst, this was a few seconds after 9:55am. We then saw the Sun gradually appear in and out of cloud. By 10:30am there was no cloud and we then were able to view the final phases until 11:23am when the eclipse and the Earth left the shadow of the Moon.
Anton Williams, the Vice Managing Editor of Liputan6 was travelling with the group and took some images, including some of totality through the cloud.
Kieran, the youngest of our team exclaimed ‘this was surreal, it went completely dark in mid-morning when it is usually light and the birds were quiet – but the humans were noisy’. Our group was awarded by the local community for the education work over the past few days and even though there was a little disappointment at not seeing totality, we all felt elated by the experience and thankful to the organisers.