14th Nov 2012 12:29am | By James Besanvalle
An estimated 60,000 people gathered to watch a total solar eclipse engulfing regional Queensland today.
At approximately 6.39am, Cairns and the surrounding areas in the greater north of Queensland were plunged into twilight darkness.
Many onlookers feared an overcast morning would block the eclipse from sight but the clouds parted shortly before the eclipse occurred.
The landscape was shrouded in an early morning mist and the temperature dropped dramatically as the sun was blocked from this small part of Earth.
A total eclipse is a rare event and usually only happens once or twice a year in various places around the world.
In a total eclipse, the moon completely covers the sun’s rays.
This causes a bright ring of light peeking from behind the moon, known as a corona. The full corona was only visible in Cairns and parts of Townsville, with many surrounding areas seeing 90 per cent of the corona.
Eclipse watchers were mesmerized as local wildlife reportedly went quiet and everything seemed to stop.
The only light that could be seen was the thousands of flashes from various cameras along the beach.
A flotilla of sailboats, yachts and four cruise liners dotted the waters of the inner Great Barrier Reef, as an estimated 40 hot air balloons littered the sky.
The next solar eclipse in Australia is due in 2237.