Eclipse thrills on remote Arctic islands, clouds mar for some

Fri Mar 20, 2015 9:28pm EDT
 
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By Gerhard Mey

TORSHAVN, Faroe Islands (Reuters) - A solar eclipse thrilled thousands of sky gazers on remote Arctic islands on Friday but clouds disappointed some viewers of a rare celestial show that was also partly visible for millions in Europe, Africa and Asia.

People cheered and clapped as the moon blocked the sun for about 2.5 minutes under clear skies on the icy Norwegian islands of Svalbard, where tourists had been warned of risks of frostbite and polar bears after an attack on Thursday.

But clouds masked the sky over Torshavn, the capital of the Faroe Islands further south and the only other place where a total eclipse was visible from land as the moon's shadow skimmed across the Atlantic.

"It was overcast, there was rain and wind. You could see nothing. It was a disappointment for everybody," said Gabor Lantos, a Hungarian tourist. "Some tourists were so irritated, they argued with tour operators, demanding their money back."

Others were more awestruck by the sudden darkness.

"It was worth coming here from Australia, probably not as good as the 2012 eclipse we saw in Cairns, but still worth coming," said Australian visitor Michael Tonks. Street lights came on automatically as the sky blackened.

Some eclipse viewers gathered on an icy mountainside in Svalbard. "We couldn't ask for more. It was stunning," said Ronny Brunvoll, head of the Visit Svalbard organization.

In Svalbard, a polar bear mauled a Czech tourist on Thursday, breaking into his tent as he slept. Jakub Moravev, flown by helicopter to hospital, escaped with light injuries to his face, chest and an arm.   Continued...

 
School children wearing protective glasses pose for photographers outside The Royal Observatory during a partial solar eclipse in Greenwich, south east London March 20, 2015. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth