Total solar eclipse darkens northern Australia

SYDNEY, Australia

Stubborn clouds that many feared would ruin the view parted -- somewhat -- in north Queensland, defying forecasts of a total eclipse-viewing bust.

Spectators whooped and clapped with delight as the moon passed between the sun and Earth, leaving a slice of the continent's northeast in sudden darkness.

Skygazers crowded along palm-fringed beaches, fields and clifftops to watch the event through protective viewing glasses and homemade pinhole cameras that projected the sun's image onto makeshift screens. Fitness fanatics gathered for the Solar Eclipse Marathon, where the first rays of the sun re-emerging from behind the moon was the starting gun. Some began partying days ago at a weeklong eclipse festival.

The next total solar eclipse won't happen until March 2015.

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