The Total Solar Eclipse Thrills South Pacific Sky Watchers

A total solar eclipse has crossed the South Pacific, with thousands of tourists and scientists gathered on Chile's Easter Island to view it.

The eclipse, which was only perceptible from small sections of land, ended over southern parts of Chile and Argentina.

The eclipse started at 1815 GMT about 700km (440 miles) south-east of Tonga, and reached Easter Island by 2011 GMT.

The population of the island - a Unesco World Heritage site – increased and became almost doubled to about 8,000 for the event.

Some forecasters had warned that cloudy skies could dash hopes of a clear view of the eclipse.

But as the moment neared on Easter Island, turbulent weather gave way to bright sunshine.

"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," local official Francisco Haoa told AFP news agency.

"It started with a shadow. The skies were completely blue, with lots of wind which chased away the clouds. Everyone applauded."

In Tahiti, where the obscure began, crowds of football-mad Polynesians turned away from the World Cup final on TV 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 enclosed up the bottom of the Sun which reappeared again as a crescent."

The next total solar eclipse will happen in November 2012 and will be noticeable from northern Australia and the South Pacific. Bookmark and Share