Des dizaines de milliers de scientifiques, de touristes et d'astronomes amateurs ont observé, mercredi en Australie, la Lune passer devant le Soleil et projeter son ombre sur la surface de la Terre. L'éclipse solaire totale a plongé le nord du pays dans la noirceur pendant quelques minutes.

La présence persistante de nuages faisait craindre que le spectacle soit caché partiellement dans certaines parties du nord du Queensland, mais le ciel s'est dégagé juste au bon moment, à la grande surprise des météorologues. Les spectateurs étaient ravis, certains ayant parcouru de longues distances pour assister à ce phénomène céleste.

« Les éclipses totales sont l'un des phénomènes les plus impressionnants que l'on peut voir », a affirmé Terry Cuttle, de l'Association d'astronomie du Queensland, qui en a vu des dizaines d'autres au fil des ans. « Je considère que toute personne devrait se permettre une fois dans sa vie d'observer une éclipse solaire totale. »

Les spectateurs ont crié de joie et ont applaudi quand la Lune est passée entre le Soleil et la Terre, plongeant subitement dans le noir la partie nord-est de l'Australie.

L'éclipse a commencé peu après le lever du jour. Elle a projeté une ombre de 150 kilomètres dans les Territoires du Nord, a traversé l'extrémité nord-est du pays et s'est dirigée vers l'est, en direction du Pacifique Sud, où aucune île ne se trouve dans sa trajectoire.

Une éclipse partielle devait néanmoins être visible dans l'est de l'Indonésie, dans la moitié est de l'Australie, en Nouvelle-Zélande, en Papouasie-Nouvelle-Guinée et dans le sud du Chili et de l'Argentine. L'éclipse totale n'a duré que deux minutes en Australie.

Les conditions climatiques moroses dans le nord-est de l'Australie inquiétaient de nombreux scientifiques et les amateurs d'astronomie du monde entier qui s'étaient rendus dans le pays pour l'occasion. Mais les nuages se sont déplacés juste à temps pour le spectacle.

Certains hôtels du Queensland avaient réservé des chambres depuis plus de trois ans pour l'événement. Plus de 50 000 visiteurs ont afflué dans la région pour observer le phénomène, selon Jeff Gillies, directeur régional du tourisme.

La prochaine éclipse solaire totale aura lieu en mars 2015.

Plusieurs personnes ont déjà mis en ligne des vidéos de l'éclipse, si vous ne l'avez pas suivi en direct sur Internet: Regardez le diaporama réalisé par nos confrères américains du Huffington Post:
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  • Solar Eclipse Above Clouds

  • Solar Eclipse From A Helicopter

  • Solar Eclipse From A Helicopter

  • Slowly Coming To An End

  • Solar Eclipse Draws Crowds To North Queensland Vantage Points

    PALM COVE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 14: A spectator views the solar eclipse on November 14, 2012 in Palm Cove, Australia. Thousands of eclipse-watchers have gathered in part of North Queensland to enjoy the solar eclipse, the first in Australia in a decade. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

  • Solar Eclipse Draws Crowds To North Queensland Vantage Points

    PALM COVE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 14: Near totality is seen during the solar eclipse at Palm Cove on November 14, 2012 in Palm Cove, Australia. Thousands of eclipse-watchers have gathered in part of North Queensland to enjoy the solar eclipse, the first in Australia in a decade. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

  • Eclipse-Viewing Gear

  • Eclipse Continues In Cairns, Australia

  • Solar Eclipse Draws Crowds To North Queensland Vantage Points

    PALM COVE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 13: Totality is seen during the solar eclipse at Palm Cove on November 14, 2012 in Palm Cove, Australia. Thousands of eclipse-watchers have gathered in part of North Queensland to enjoy the solar eclipse, the first in Australia in a decade. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

  • Couple Gets Engaged During Eclipse

  • Eclipse Reaches Totality

  • AUSTRALIA-ASTRONOMY-ECLIPSE

    The Diamond Ring effect is shown following totality of the solar eclipse at Palm Cove in Australia's Tropical North Queensland on November 14, 2012. Eclipse-hunters have flocked to Queensland's tropical northeast to watch the region's first total solar eclipse in 1,300 years on November 14, which occurred as the moon passed between the earth and the sun, casting a shadow path on the globe and lasting for a maximum on the Australian mainland of 2 minutes and 5 seconds. AFP PHOTO / Greg WOOD (Photo credit should read GREG WOOD/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Solar Eclipse Over Miallo, Queensland, Australia

  • Solar Eclipse Over Cairns, Australia Nears Totality

  • Starting To Get Good

  • First Contact

  • Eclipse Continues Over Great Barrier Reef, Australia

  • Solar Eclipse Draws Crowds To North Queensland Vantage Points

    PALM COVE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 14: A young boy gets ready to view the solar eclipse with his telescope on November 14, 2012 in Palm Cove, Australia. Thousands of eclipse-watchers have gathered in part of North Queensland to enjoy the solar eclipse, the first in Australia in a decade. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

  • Solar Eclipse Draws Crowds To North Queensland Vantage Points

    PALM COVE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 14: A spectator views the solar eclipse through a telescope on November 14, 2012 in Palm Cove, Australia. Thousands of eclipse-watchers have gathered in part of North Queensland to enjoy the solar eclipse, the first in Australia in a decade. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

  • Solar Eclipse Draws Crowds To Cairns, Australia

  • Solar Eclipse Draws Crowds To Four Mile Beach

  • Eclipse Begins Over Great Barrier Reef, Australia

  • Crowds Get A Glimpse Of The Sun In Cairns, Australia

  • Clouds Block The Sun In Cairns, Australia

  • Solar Eclipse Draws Crowds To Cairns, Australia

  • Solar Eclipse Draws Crowds To Cairns, Australia

  • Solar Eclipse Draws Crowds To North Queensland Vantage Points

    CAIRNS, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 13: Terry Cuttle sets up telescopic cameras and computer equipment on Palm Cove beach in preparation to run a live stream via NASA of the total solar eclipse on November 13, 2012 in Cairns, Australia. Thousands of eclipse-watchers have gathered in part of North Queensland to enjoy the solar eclipse, the first in Australia in a decade. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

  • Solar Eclipse Draws Crowds To North Queensland Vantage Points

    CAIRNS, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 13: A general view of seats set up over-looking the ocean to watch the total solar eclipse are seen on November 13, 2012 in Cairns, Australia. Thousands of eclipse-watchers have gathered in part of North Queensland to enjoy the solar eclipse, the first in Australia in a decade. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

  • Solar Eclipse Draws Crowds To North Queensland Vantage Points

    CAIRNS, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 13: Telescopic cameras and computer equipment are set up on Palm Cove beach in preparation to run a live stream via NASA of the total solar eclipse on November 13, 2012 in Cairns, Australia. Thousands of eclipse-watchers have gathered in part of North Queensland to enjoy the solar eclipse, the first in Australia in a decade. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

  • Solar Eclipse Draws Crowds To North Queensland Vantage Points

    CAIRNS, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 13: Terry Cuttle demonstates the use of eclipse shades at a press conference at the Reef House resort in preparation for people to watch the total solar eclipse on November 13, 2012 in Palm Cove, Australia. Thousands of eclipse-watchers have gathered in part of North Queensland to enjoy the solar eclipse, the first in Australia in a decade. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

  • Solar Eclipse Draws Crowds To North Queensland Vantage Points

    CAIRNS, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 13: A telescopic camera is seen on Palm Cove beach in preparation to run a live stream via NASA of the total solar eclipse on November 13, 2012 in Cairns, Australia. Thousands of eclipse-watchers have gathered in part of North Queensland to enjoy the solar eclipse, the first in Australia in a decade. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

  • Solar Eclipse Draws Crowds To North Queensland Vantage Points

    CAIRNS, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 13: Walkers pass as telescopic cameras and computer equipment are set up on Palm Cove beach in preparation to run a live stream via NASA of the total solar eclipse on November 13, 2012 in Cairns, Australia. Thousands of eclipse-watchers have gathered in part of North Queensland to enjoy the solar eclipse, the first in Australia in a decade. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

  • Solar Eclipse Draws Crowds To North Queensland Vantage Points

    CAIRNS, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 13: Telescopic cameras and computer equipment are set up on Palm Cove beach in preparation to run a live stream via NASA of the total solar eclipse on November 13, 2012 in Cairns, Australia. Thousands of eclipse-watchers have gathered in part of North Queensland to enjoy the solar eclipse, the first in Australia in a decade. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

  • Solar Eclipse Draws Crowds To North Queensland Vantage Points

    CAIRNS, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 13: Signage is seen for solar eclipse viewing glasses in preparation for people to watch the total solar eclipse on November 13, 2012 in Cairns, Australia. Thousands of eclipse-watchers have gathered in part of North Queensland to enjoy the solar eclipse, the first in Australia in a decade. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

  • Solar Eclipse Draws Crowds To North Queensland Vantage Points

    CAIRNS, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 13: Runners pass as telescopic cameras and computer equipment are set up on Palm Cove beach in preparation to run a live stream via NASA of the total solar eclipse on November 13, 2012 in Cairns, Australia. Thousands of eclipse-watchers have gathered in part of North Queensland to enjoy the solar eclipse, the first in Australia in a decade. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

  • Solar Eclipse Draws Crowds To North Queensland Vantage Points

    CAIRNS, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 13: Jonathan Bradshaw and Terry Cuttle set up telescopic cameras and computer equipment on Palm Cove beach in preparation to run a live stream via NASA of the total solar eclipse on November 13, 2012 in Cairns, Australia. Thousands of eclipse-watchers have gathered in part of North Queensland to enjoy the solar eclipse, the first in Australia in a decade. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

  • Solar Eclipse Draws Crowds To North Queensland Vantage Points

    CAIRNS, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 13: Telescopic cameras and computer equipment are set up on Palm Cove beach in preparation to run a live stream via NASA of the total solar eclipse on November 13, 2012 in Cairns, Australia. Thousands of eclipse-watchers have gathered in part of North Queensland to enjoy the solar eclipse, the first in Australia in a decade. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

  • Solar Eclipse Draws Crowds To North Queensland Vantage Points

    CAIRNS, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 13: Pairs of eclipse shades are seen in preparation for people to watch the total solar eclipse on November 13, 2012 in Cairns, Australia. Thousands of eclipse-watchers have gathered in part of North Queensland to enjoy the solar eclipse, the first in Australia in a decade. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

  • Solar Eclipse Draws Crowds To North Queensland Vantage Points

    CAIRNS, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 13: A USA sticker is seen on telescopic camera equipment on Palm Cove beach in preparation to run a live stream via NASA of the total solar eclipse on November 13, 2012 in Cairns, Australia. Thousands of eclipse-watchers have gathered in part of North Queensland to enjoy the solar eclipse, the first in Australia in a decade. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

  • Solar Eclipse Draws Crowds To North Queensland Vantage Points

    CAIRNS, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 13: A general view of people who have reserved a spot to view the total solar eclipse is seen on Palm Cove beach on November 13, 2012 in Cairns, Australia. Thousands of eclipse-watchers have gathered in part of North Queensland to enjoy the solar eclipse, the first in Australia in a decade. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

  • Solar Eclipse Draws Crowds To North Queensland Vantage Points

    CAIRNS, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 13: Telescopic equipment is seen on Palm Cove beach in preparation to run a live stream via NASA of the total solar eclipse on November 13, 2012 in Cairns, Australia. Thousands of eclipse-watchers have gathered in part of North Queensland to enjoy the solar eclipse, the first in Australia in a decade. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

  • Solar Eclipse Draws Crowds To North Queensland Vantage Points

    CAIRNS, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 13: Telescopic cameras and computer equipment are set up on Palm Cove beach in preparation to run a live stream via NASA of the total solar eclipse on November 13, 2012 in Cairns, Australia. Thousands of eclipse-watchers have gathered in part of North Queensland to enjoy the solar eclipse, the first in Australia in a decade. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

  • Solar Eclipse Draws Crowds To North Queensland Vantage Points

    CAIRNS, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 13: Terry Cuttle sets up telescopic cameras and computer equipment on Palm Cove beach in preparation to run a live stream via NASA of the total solar eclipse on November 13, 2012 in Cairns, Australia. Thousands of eclipse-watchers have gathered in part of North Queensland to enjoy the solar eclipse, the first in Australia in a decade. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)