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PHOTOS & VIDEO: New Zealanders treated to solar eclipse

Wednesday 14 Nov 2012 10:59 a.m.

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By 3 News online staff

New Zealanders have this morning been treated to an extremely rare event: the moon’s total eclipse of the sun.

Maximum coverage took place around 10:30am.

The phenomenon occurs when the moon passes directly between the earth and the sun - it terrified ancient civilisations, and still sends a shiver down the spine.

“It just happens that we have a moon that happens to be the same size in the sky as our sun – that’s just coincidence,” astronomer Dr Grant Christie told RadioLIVE.

“At other times in the Earth’s history you wouldn’t see it, so there must be very few sentient beings in the universe that ever get to see a total eclipse.”

A group of New Zealanders and Americans chartered a flight from Auckland to Gisborne to track the eclipse from the air. It was the only way to avoid any cloud cover.

They told 3 News they saw about four and a half minutes of total eclipse. It was, they said, mind blowing.

Dozens of excited astronomers on the ground viewed the eclipse through special pinhole cameras or viewing glasses to protect their eyes.

But the best view was across the ditch.

In Queensland, more than 100,000 people – including scientists and astronomers – gathered to witness the first total eclipse over the Great Barrier Reef in more than 1300 years.

For two minutes the sun totally disappeared. The area plunged into darkness.

But New Zealand will have to wait a long time to see an eclipse as full as that - one's due here in July, 2028.

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