Tens of thousands of people have converged on North Queensland for Australia's full solar eclipse in a decade.
The cosmic spectacle has attracted crowds from across the globe, who are up early to watch the show.
During two minutes of daytime darkness on the normally sun-drenched beaches of far north Queensland, thousands of eyes will be turned to the heavens.
When a total solar eclipse casts a shadow over a 150km-wide swathe of land at 6.39am (AEST) on Wednesday, the tourist towns of Cairns, Palm Cove and Port Douglas will have a front-row seat.
It is the first full solar eclipse to occur in Australia since the same eerie darkness fell on Ceduna in South Australia ten years ago.
Psychologist and avid "eclipse chaser" Dr Kate Russo was there that day, and now devotes a lot of her time to studying - and experiencing - the effects of the phenomena.
The former far-north Queenslander will be in Palm Cove on November 14, gazing at the sky, before interviewing fellow spectators for their reactions.
Russo has told AAP she has been addicted to experiencing eclipses since 1999, when she travelled to France in 1999 "out of curiosity".
"When you get hooked on it, it's something you try to see for the rest of your life," she said.
"As it started to progress over time, the more I noticed about the environment - the light started dimming, the birds started flying home to roost, I was picking up this terrible fear, which us eclipse chasers call primal fear.
"And then it just unfolded - the beauty of the eclipse was just stunning.
"I was speechless, I was shaking, I had goosebumps, I was in awe.
"It was the most incredible thing I've ever seen - it was like I'd just woken up and my life had changed."
Dr Stuart Ryder, from the Australian Astronomical Observatory, will also be heading to Palm Cove for the eclipse.
He says he'll be travelling for the fun of it, but explains that in the recent past, eclipses were used to study the solar corona - the sun's extremely hot outer atmosphere.
"Nowadays we have a fleet of spacecraft orbiting around the earth and indeed the sun, which can produce artificial eclipses," he said.Ryder says it takes the moon about an hour to pass from first contact, when it begins to cross the sun's path, to totality, when the sun is completely obscured.During those few minutes of totality, it will seem like a moonlit night."However, when you look at the sky in any direction for a couple of hundred kilometres, you can see parts of the atmosphere which are outside the moon's shadow," he said."So you'll see a black hole in the sky, with a pearly white filamentary corona around it for several degrees."Up to 60,000 people are expected to visit Cairns for the eclipse, while a further 15,000 are set to pack Port Douglas.Port Douglas Chamber of Commerce representative and newspaper editor Greg McLean says he expects the town to be busier than it is at the height of its peak tourist season.He says all of the region's campsites have been booked out, and overflow areas at sporting fields have had to be set up."I imagine it's going to be as busy as the town could ever get ... it really is a once in a lifetime opportunity for Port Douglas."
Like most towns, Port Douglas has come up with some novel ways of celebrating its time out of the sun.A marathon will begin just as the sun re-emerges from behind the moon, and the town will host the first-ever game of "fooket" - which involves simultaneous games of Aussie rules and cricket on the same oval.Meanwhile, in a nod to the far north's hippy past, an eclectic mix of DJs, techno and folk acts will perform at the week-long Eclipse Festival, near the remote Palmer River Roadhouse.Queensland Rail will send a chartered train to scenic Red Bluff, near Kuranda, giving 100 passengers a different perspective of the celestial dance.But the thousands hoping to glimpse the eclipse should cross their fingers, as the eclipse falls within the far north's wet season and could be obscured by cloud cover and rain.If it is a washout, they'll have to wait until Sydney goes dark in 2028 for the next total solar eclipse visible from Australian shores.
- Eclipse watchers should remember to wear safety goggles or view the event through simple projection devices, which can be made of cardboard. Even while hidden behind the moon, the sun is incredibly powerful. Just a few seconds of looking at it directly can cause blindness.