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Cairns eclipse: A total eclipse of the sun

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If ever you needed proof that planet earth is simply one rock revolving around lots of others in the universe then you have to witness a total solar eclipse.

Tropical North Queensland has today seen such an event pass over its shores with the line of totality hitting the mainland around Cairns, and I’m lucky enough to have seen it first hand.

It’s not my first time by a long shot, having seen three total eclipses before today in different places around the world. I consider myself a bit of an ‘umbraphile’ (that’s an eclipse chaser to you guys) and over the last few days thousands of people have flocked to the region to see for themselves what an incredible celestial phenomenon it really is.

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We woke at 2:00am to cloudy skies after a night of rain and trepidation – surely the weather gods wouldn’t mask our view? While you’re able to see the eclipse in all its glory from a number of locations from Innisfail to Port Douglas, we headed away from the mainland and out onto the ocean to minimise the chance of cloud cover.

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Passions of Paradise took us out to Michaelmas Cay, about 40 kilometres offshore, to find shelter from the winds in the lee of the island. With 60 people on board everyone was keen to watch this special event unfold; cameras looped around necks, eclipse-viewing glasses at the ready and an air of expectation all around.

As more of the sun was hidden behind the moon, twilight came closer. The birds nesting on the cay became restless taking to the air and circling the boat; literally thousands of them. The temperature dropped a few degrees and everyone around me held their breath.

With the last slivers of sunlight disappearing behind the moon, the infamous diamond ring arrived before giving way to totality, the moment when everything around goes dark. Stars became obvious, sunset arrived on one horizon with sunrise approached fast on the other. People cheered, clapped and snapped away – this had to be one of the most social solar eclipses ever!

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To be out on the water watching this event was simply magnificent, the clear blue skies gave us a sight that many on the mainland would have dreamed of. Like all the good things in life it was over far too quickly but it reminded me of exactly why I travel to remote parts of this great planet to see them.

Next stop? The Faroe Islands off the north of Scotland in 2015. See you there!

Ben :)

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