Awestruck in Kalimantan


I remember standing in the school playground when I was 10 years old watching a solar eclipse with my classmates under the supervision of our teacher. The world didn’t go as dark as I had hoped but that’s because it was only a partial eclipse. Today, for the first time ever, I watched one in totality as the moon crossed directly between the Earth and the Sun in the clear blue sky of Balikpapan, in East Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo.

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We had the perfect view from our 16th floor east-facing balcony, which looked out over the sea.

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The eclipse began at 7.25am as the Moon took a tiny nibble out of one side of the sun, progressing over the next half hour to a bite-sized chunk, until it had gobbled away so much that only a crescent of the Sun’s light was still visible.

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At just over one hour into the event, we were thrilled to witness the diamond ring effect, which occurred just seconds before the extraordinary one-and-a-quarter-minutes of totality. And yes, our world went quiet and eerily slipped into twilight, with a golden glow hovering over the horizon. The temperature dropped, the stars came back out, and we were spellbound.

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