Photo Gallery: Total solar eclipse sweeps across Indonesia
JAKARTA, Indonesia — Millions of Indonesians witnessed a rare total solar eclipse early on Wednesday that turned morning into night in some areas and inspired special prayer vigils, cultural dances, live music and observation parties.
It was the first total solar eclipse, in which the moon obscures the sun by passing directly between it and Earth, since March 20, 2015. That event was visible only in the Faroe Islands in the North Atlantic Ocean and the Svalbard archipelago of Norway.
The eclipse on Wednesday, which began at 6:19 a.m. in Jakarta, the capital, was visible in nearly half of Indonesia's 34 provinces. Partial eclipses could be seen in the region, including in Australia and Singapore; in some Pacific island nations and in Hawaii.
Because of the eclipse's trajectory, the regions of South Sumatra, Indonesian Borneo, Central Sulawesi and Eastern Indonesia got the best shows, with the small town of Ternate in the Maluku Islands deemed the prime viewing location. International scientists were in the Malukus to observe the eclipse, while tens of thousands of Indonesians and foreign tourists flocked to various regions for the event.
Indonesian television stations broadcast live shots of the eclipse in different stages from four regions across the 3,100-mile archipelago, showing a pitch-black moon with a bright halo.
In Palembang, the capital of the province of South Sumatra, the morning sky turned to dusk at the peak of the eclipse, and streetlights were turned on to assist motorists and pedestrians.
Thousands of mosques across the country held special eclipse prayers. Indonesia is the most populous Muslim-majority nation in the world.
Although Jakarta was not a prime viewing location, clear morning skies there allowed residents to see the eclipse if they donned tinted glasses or improvised using medical X-rays or exposed camera film to block out the sunlight. In residential neighborhoods near the city center, mosque loudspeakers blared prayers and songs as the eclipse reached its peak around 7:20 a.m.
The sun was totally obscured in some areas of Indonesia for nearly three minutes, but the morning skies were back to normal within two hours of the eclipse's start.