Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

DEBATE

What's Putin's Plan? Kiev Accuses Russia of Terrorism

Read more

FOCUS

Campaigning against Bouteflika's re-election... in France

Read more

WEB NEWS

Chile: Online mobilization to help Valparaiso fire victims

Read more

ENCORE!

Art, sex, money, memory and manga

Read more

MIDDLE EAST MATTERS

Spat over Iran's UN ambassador hampers thawing relations with US

Read more

FOCUS

China trade deal: Is Taiwan's identity under threat?

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'Call it a caretaker government'

Read more

DEBATE

Nigeria's Battles

Read more

DEBATE

Nigeria's Battles (part 2)

Read more

  • Kiev powerless as pro-Russia activists seize armoured vehicles

    Read more

  • France's new PM targets welfare in drive to cut spending

    Read more

  • Belgian head of wildlife reserve shot in eastern Congo

    Read more

  • Rescue effort under way as ferry sinks off S. Korean coast

    Read more

  • US rolls out red carpet for French critic of capitalism

    Read more

  • North Korea not amused by London hair salon's Kim Jong-un ad

    Read more

  • Brazil club Mineiro cancel Anelka signing after no-show

    Read more

  • Syria 'torture' photos silence UN Security Council members

    Read more

  • Paris laboratory loses deadly SARS virus samples

    Read more

  • More than 100 schoolgirls kidnapped in northeast Nigeria

    Read more

  • New York police disband unit targeting Muslims

    Read more

  • 'Miracle girl' healthy after seven-organ transplant in Paris

    Read more

  • Paris police memo calling for Roma eviction ‘rectified’

    Read more

  • Burgundy digs into France's bureaucratic 'mille-feuille'

    Read more

  • French court drops ‘hate speech’ case against Bob Dylan

    Read more

  • Algeria rights crackdown slammed ahead of election

    Read more

  • Iraq closes notorious Abu Ghraib jail over security fears

    Read more

  • Berlusconi sentenced to community service for tax fraud

    Read more

  • In ‘Tom at the Farm’, Xavier Dolan blends Hitchcock and homoeroticism

    Read more

  • US to mark one year since Boston Marathon bombing

    Read more

  • India's Supreme Court establishes third gender category

    Read more

Earth

Easter Island sky watchers witness total solar eclipse

©

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-07-12

A total solar eclipse over the Pacific on Sunday drew thousands to the Chilean outpost of Easter Island to watch as the moon aligned with the earth to blot out the sun for several minutes, plunging the region into darkness at midday.

AFP - A total solar eclipse drew an 11,000-kilometer (6,800-mile) arc over the Pacific Sunday, plunging remote territories into darkness, but drawing thousands of curious tourists and their dollars.
   
The skies grew black in the middle of the day as the Moon slipped in front of the Sun and aligned with the Earth, blotting out the sunshine that just moments earlier had swathed the island's silent, ancient stone guardians.
   
Applause erupted from thousands of stargazers who began gathering days ago on this remote Chilean outpost for the rare four-minute, 41-second eclipse.
   
"It was like being in the stadium at night with artificial light. It was like being in a dark room with a 10-watt bulb," awe-struck local official Francisco Haoa told AFP.
   
"It started with a shadow. The skies were perfectly blue, with lots of wind that chased away the clouds. Everyone applauded.
   
"We saw a luminous object near here and people started saying they were sure it was a UFO."
   
In Tahiti, where the solar eclipse began its trek, the effect was so stunning that crowds of football-mad Polynesians turned away from the World Cup final on their television screens to look to the skies instead.
   
"It was like the Sun was smiling," said eight-year-old Hinanui. "The Sun seemed like a horizontal crescent, then the Moon covered up the bottom of the Sun, which reappeared again as a crescent."
   
Opticians and pharmacies sold more than 120,000 pairs of protective eyewear in Tahiti, which has 260,000 inhabitants, and warned of the dangers of vision loss if people looked directly at the eclipse.
   
Beginning at 1815 GMT, when the umbra or shadow fell about 700 kilometers (440 miles) southeast of Tonga, the eclipse zipped in an easterly arc, cloaking Easter Island at 2011 GMT.
   
It finished with a pass across southern Chile and Argentina, where it came to an end at 2052 GMT, just before nightfall in Patagonia.
   
An estimated 4,000 tourists, scientists, photographers, filmmakers and journalists flocked to this World Heritage site of only 160 square kilometers (60 square miles), doubling the barren island's population.
   
The Sun is 400 times wider than the Moon, but it is also 400 times farther away. Because of the symmetry, the lunar umbra that falls on the face of the Earth is exactly wide enough to cover the face of the Sun.
   
Throughout human history, superstition, awe and dread -- fears for the birth or death of kings, victories or defeats, bumper harvests or gnawing hunger -- have attended the moment when the Earth is plunged into daytime darkness.
   
Easter Island authorities increased security, especially around key heritage sites, including the 3,000-year-old large stone statues, or moai, that put the far-flung ethnic Polynesian islanders on the world culture map.
   
In local ancient lore, such an eclipse "would have been seen as a very powerful signal of upcoming upheaval," as their world view was rooted in nature, in "the earth, the sea and especially the sky," said Patricia Vargas of the University of Chile.
   
A French and a Japanese tourist were arrested for mounting "platforms where they are not allowed to touch and climb the statues," said police chief Cristian Gonzalez.
   
Mayor Luz del Carmen Zasso said visitors were asked to treat the island with respect.
   
"Easter Island is an open-air museum, and the eclipse is part of this museum," she added.
   
Meanwhile, in the small Patagonian town of El Calafate, just across the border from southern Chile in the snow-capped Argentine Andes, hundreds of people gathered to witness the natural phenomenon.
   
"We are pleased and excited by the interest generated by the eclipse. The five daily flights arriving in El Calafate were full on Friday and Saturday, and the climate is excellent for watching," said tourism director Ana Ianni.
   
Forecasters said there were clear skies with below-freezing temperatures in the southern hemisphere winter.
   
The more adventurous could choose to spend the day in heated tents, high up in mountain spots only accessible with the help of guides and the stunning Perito Moreno glacier as a backdrop.
  
 

Date created : 2010-07-12

Comments

COMMENT(S)