There hasn’t been a total solar eclipse in Queensland, Australia, for over 1,300 years – but that’s about to change.
Between 5.45 and 7.40am on Wednesday tens of thousands of visitors and locals in Tropical North Queensland are hoping the clouds will break and allow them to see a once-in-a-lifetime natural phenomenon.
Scientists and umbraphiles (eclipse chasers) have flown in from around the globe in the hope of seeing the moon block the sun entirely and cast a 95-mile-wide shadow across the region.
Some hotels in Queensland have even been booked up for three years by eclipse enthusiasts.
Queensland Minister for Tourism, Major Events, Small Business and the Commonwealth Games Jann Stuckey said: “There are a number of prime eclipse viewing spots along the coast, in the air, on the water and inland and the 50,000 to 60,000 visitors here for this event will be busily scoping out their favoured spot if they haven’t already.
“Many people have chosen a Queensland tourism experience to get a bird’s eye view of the eclipse such as hot air ballooning over the Atherton Tablelands, watching from the deck of cruise ships and dive boats, or by staying at beach resorts or Great Barrier Reef islands.
“Numerous groups are also combining their visit with scientific conferences so for the many eclipse-chasers who follow these events around the world, it’s a real bonus to be able to combine their passion with such a fantastic holiday experience.”
Tourism Queensland Acting CEO Leanne Coddington said groups of eclipse aficionados had travelled to the region from around the world, including three charter flights of Japanese scientists, six cruise ships moored off the coast, a group of Nasa scientists on the Atherton Tablelands and groups stationed on the beaches between Cairns, Palm Cove and Port Douglas.
“Most eclipse chasers will be in the region for around five to seven days,” she said.
Total solar eclipses are extremely rare. There have only been four in the UK in the past 1,000 years.
And don’t hold your breath for the next one – it’s not due until 2090.