PALEMBANG, Indonesia - A solar eclipse enthralled Indonesia on Wednesday but clouds spoiled the view for many skywatchers in the east of the archipelago, the only part of the country that had the opportunity to see it in totality.
In Palembang city on the western island of Sumatra where the total eclipse should have been visible, cloudy skies and smog obscured the view for many of the thousands of people who gathered outside shortly after daybreak. "It was very annoying that we couldn't see the sun properly," said David Pratama, 18, as jeers of disappointment rose up in the crowd around him as the sun moved behind the moon.
A partial eclipse of the sun was visible to millions in Australia, parts of Southeast Asia and the Pacific, but only people in a small band of Indonesia had the opportunity to see the moon perfectly silhouetted by the sun.
In the capital, Jakarta, hundreds of residents and school children flocked to city's planetarium where special viewing glasses were handed out to see the partial eclipse. "We are very excited because it's our first time seeing something like this," said Santi who brought along her five-year old daughter to watch as the eclipse briefly dimmed the skies.
Indonesia last saw a total eclipse in 1983 and it will be 33 years until the next one, according to the meteorological agency.
The world's next total solar eclipse will occur in August 2017 and be visible in the United States, according to NASA.
The rare astronomical phenomenon drew thousands of tourists to Southeast Asia's biggest economy, which is hoping to double its foreign tourist arrivals to 20 million by 2019.
A solar eclipse happens when the moon casts a shadow on the earth as it passes between the earth and the sun. A partial eclipse, more frequent than total eclipses, is when the earth passes within the penumbra of the moon.
(Additional reporting by Randy Fabi in Jakarta; Editing by Robert Birsel)