A total eclipse of the sun briefly plunged parts of Indonesia into darkness. The rare astronomical phenomenon was witnessed along a narrow path that stretched across 12 Indonesian provinces, encompassing three time zones and about 40 million people. A partial eclipse was visible in other parts of the Indonesian archipelago, as well as a swathe of Asia and in northern Australia.

total solar eclipse
The sun goes into total eclipse, as seen from a beach in Ternate, IndonesiaBeawiharta/Reuters
total solar eclipse
The phases of a total solar eclipse are seen from a beach in Ternate, IndonesiaBeawiharta/Reuters
total solar eclipse
Light from a solar eclipse is refracted through a telescope and cast on to a person's hand on the Ampera Bridge over the Musi River in Palembang, South Sumatra province, IndonesiaNova Wahyudi/Antara Foto/Reuters
total solar eclipse
People watch and take pictures of the solar eclipse on a beach in Ternate, IndonesiaBeawiharta/Reuters
total solar eclipse
A schoolgirl watches a partial solar eclipse at the Planetarium in Kuala Lumpur, MalaysiaOlivia Harris/Reuters
total solar eclipse
A capsule of the Singapore Flyer observatory wheel is silhouetted as the sun goes into a partial solar eclipseEdgar Su/Reuters
total solar eclipse
Hundreds of people watch a solar eclipse near the Ampera Bridge along the banks of the Musi River in Palembang, South Sumatra province, IndonesiaDarren Whiteside/Reuters
total solar eclipse
A partial solar eclipse is seen behind a labourer working at a construction site in Phnom Penh, CambodiaSamrang Pring/Reuters
total solar eclipse
An aeroplane flies past the sun as it goes into a partial solar eclipse in SingaporeEdgar Su/Reuters
total solar eclipse
A crescent sun is seen behind a crescent moon on a mosque in Kuala Lumpur, MalaysiaManan Vatsayana/AFP
total solar eclipse
A total solar eclipse is pictured from Ternate, on Indonesia's Maluku IslandsBay Ismoyo/AFP

Thousands of eclipse-chasers flocked to Indonesia from around the world. Cloudy skies in parts of Indonesia dampened the spectacle for some. In Palembang, a Sumatran city of more than 1.4 million, thousands of residents gathered at its landmark Ampera bridge from well before dawn, but the total eclipse was only briefly visible, if at all. Indonesia last saw a total eclipse in 1983 and it will be 33 years until the next one, according to the meteorological agency.

In other parts of the world, the previous total solar eclipse was in March 2015 and was best viewed on Norway's Svalbard islands near the North Pole. The next total eclipse will occur in August 2017 and be visible over a slice of North America.

A solar eclipse happens when the moon casts a shadow on the earth as it passes between the earth and the sun. A partial eclipse, more frequent than total eclipses, is when the earth passes within the penumbra of the moon.