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Rare solar eclipse to cross remote Australia, Indonesia

A rare solar eclipse will cross over remote parts of Australia, Indonesia and East Timor on Thursday.

The lucky few in the path of the hybrid solar eclipse will either get plunged into the darkness of a total eclipse or they’ll see a “ring of fire” as the sun peeks out from behind the moon.

The eclipse path will swoop from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, mostly over water. For those viewing the total eclipse, it will last a little over a minute.

Such celestial events happen about once every decade: The last one was in 2013 and the next one isn’t until 2031. They occur when Earth is in the “sweet spot” so the moon and the sun are almost the exact same size in the sky, said NASA solar expert Michael Kirk.

At some points, the moon is a little closer and blocks out the sun in a total eclipse. But when the moon is a little farther away, it lets some of the sun’s light peek out in an annular eclipse.

“It’s a crazy phenomenon,” Kirk said. “You’re actually watching the moon get larger in the sky.”

Those outside the eclipse path can still watch from a distance: Some sites in Australia will stream the event online, including the Perth Observatory and the Gravity Discovery Centre and Observatory.

Several other upcoming solar eclipses will be easier to catch. An annular eclipse in mid-October and a total eclipse next April will both cross over millions of people in the Americas.

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Educational Media Group. The AP is solely responsible for all content.