Total Eclipse Darkens Sky Over Northern Australia

A view of the total eclipse Wednesday morning from the city of Cairns in northern Australia

Thirteen-year-old Saxon Radecki summed up his view of Wednesday morning’s total solar eclipse in a single sentence.

“It was really cool,” he said, in an interview with Australia’s Northern Territory News.

Saxon and his family live just outside the northern Australian city of Darwin – a city where the moon blocked out 92 percent of the sun’s rays Wednesday morning, according to the Australian, one of the nation’s newspapers.

(“Solar” means related to the sun.)

Further east, people in the Australia city of Cairns saw the total eclipse in its totality.

The moon blocked the sun completely for two minutes, according to the AFP news agency.

And day turned into night.

“Wow,” said tourist Geoff Scott, according to AFP reporter Greg Wood.  “Insects and birds gone silent.”

“It was breathtaking,” said another tourist, Ann Lucey, in an interview with the Australian.

Lucey and Scott were reportedly among as many as 60,000 tourists who traveled to northern Australia just to see the total eclipse.

She came all the way from Florida – a distance of approximately 9,500 miles.

And apparently, she was not disappointed.

“I felt my heart skip a few beats,” she told a reporter.  “I was just breathless in awe.”

If you were in the United States late Tuesday or early Wednesday, you missed this eclipse completely.

It was only visible in a relatively small section of the world.

Australians got the best view.

But the eclipse was also partially visible in parts of Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, Chile and Argentina – all south of the equator.

People in an around Cairns got the best view of all.

“It is like the moon has wiped a cloth over the face of the sun,” said Natalie Dillon, in an interview with the Australian.

A total eclipse of the sun happens when the moon passes directly between the sun and the Earth.

The last one occurred July 11th, 2010.

But it was also only visible in parts of the Southern Hemisphere.

“Total solar eclipses occur once every one to two years,” said NASA astrophysicist Fred Espenak, in an interview with AFP.  “But (they’re) only visible from less than half a percent of the Earth’s surface.”

(An astrophysicist is a type of astronomer who specializes in studying the behavior and physical properties of objects in space, including the sun, the moon, the stars and the planets.  Physical properties include such things as temperature, brightness and what chemicals a space object is made of.)

The next total solar eclipse is expected to occur on March 20, 2015.

But you’ll have to travel to Iceland, northern Scandinavia or the Faroe Islands in the North Atlantic Ocean in order to see it, Espenak told AFP.

If you want to see a total solar eclipse here in the United States, scientists say you’ll have to wait until August 21, 2017.

If you’re into astronomy, mark your calendars now.

“Total eclipses are one of the most dramatic sites that you can ever see,” astronomer Terry Cuttle told the Associated Press.  “Everybody owes it to themselves to see at least one total eclipse in their life.”