Total solar eclipse in Indonesia set to amaze thousands of tourists

Thousands of tourists have flocked to Indonesia to catch a glimpse of Wednesday's eclipse

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The Independent Online

Indonesians will look to the skies in their thousands on Wednesday, when a rare solar eclipse will be visible over the archipelago nation.

The eclipse has been internationally promoted as a tourist attraction since 2014, and over 10,000 foreign eclipse-chasers are expected to visit the country this week in order to catch a glimpse.

Special events have been organised all over Indonesia on the day of the eclipse, including festivals and boat tours. Hotels in the prime viewing spots were fully booked weeks ago, and officials in one city have scrambled to find more space for tourists on boats.

Speaking to AFP, the country's tourism head I Gde Pitana said Indonesia was "very lucky" to be the best place to spot the eclipse.

"This is a very special year because we have this phenomenon - a tourism attraction created by God," he said.

Tens of millions of Indonesians will also drop everything to see the eclipse, which will be the last to be visible in the country until 2042.

A schoolboy observes the Sun through a telescope in Ternate island, Indonesia, ahead of the eclipse (Pic: Beawiharta/Reuters)
Palembang, on the island of Sumatra, will be the first major city to see the eclipse (Pic: Abdul Qodir/AFP)
Schoolchildren test their eclipse glasses in Ternate island (Pic: Beawiharta/Reuters)

The eclipse will be visible within a path around 80 miles in length, which begins in the Indian Ocean and covers parts of Sumatra, Kalimantan and Sulawesi, before ending in the north Pacfic.

It won't be visible in Indonesia's capital and biggest city, Jakarta, but it will be in the large Sumatran city of Palembang, home to 1.7 million people.

Solar eclipses happen at least twice a year, when the planets align and the Moon blocks out the Sun. Most eclipses are partial, but on rare occasions when the Moon is close enough to the Earth, the Sun is totally eclipsed.

The last total solar eclipse occurred in March 2015, although it was only visible from the sparsely-populated Faroe Islands and the island of Svalbard, deep inside the Arctic Circle.

The entire event will last for around three hours, but the Sun will only be completely obscured for 90 seconds to four minutes, depending on where the viewer is along the eclipse's path.

If you're not able to fly to the other side of the world to watch the spectacle, you might have to wait a while to see a similar one here, since the next total solar eclipse visible in the UK will take place on 23 September, 2090.