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Marvel at the 'Midnight Sun' eclipse

Bjornar G. Hansen

Photographer Bjornar G. Hansen captured this view of Wednesday's partial solar eclipse from the island of Kvaloya in arctic Norway, using a Nikon D3 camera.

A solar eclipse at midnight? Putting those two terms together doesn't normally compute, but this week's partial solar eclipse was a rare and lovely exception. The moon's shadow blotted out part of the sun's disk over far northern areas of the world, where the sun is above the horizon long into the night. The "midnight sun" wasn't the only weirdness about this eclipse: How many celestial events do you know that begin on a Thursday and end on the previous Wednesday?

The image above was captured by Bjørnar G. Hansen from the island of Kvaløya, near Tromsø in the Norwegian Arctic, just before midnight. The sunbeams, clouds and the outstretched hand add to an already-charming image. Tony Phillips of SpaceWeather.com, which attracts a gold mine of pictures showing auroras, eclipses and other sky phenomena, rates it as one of his favorites.

Bernt Olsen watched the eclipse from nearby, at Brensholmen, and got some good shots of the eclipse despite rain and clouds. "There are 73 years to next time we will experience something like this here up north in the Arctic," he said in his note to SpaceWeather.com. Three of his pictures are below, and you can see more of them at Olsen's Flickr and Facebook pages.

Bernt Olsen

The partially eclipsed sun shines through clouds over Brensholmen in the Norwegian Arctic, in a view captured by photographer Bernt Olsen.

Clouds made for a challenging view of the partial solar eclipse from Brensholmen.

Bernt Olsen

Bernt Olsen says the partial solar eclipse finally peeked out from behind the clouds, allowing him to capture this view from Brensholmen in the Norwegian Arctic, using a Nikon D90 with a Sigma 70-300 lens and a "self-made" Baader film-filter.

Svetlana Kulkova captured early-morning views of the eclipse from the Siberian city of Bratsk. On the night before the eclipse, the skies were obscured by clouds as well as smoke wafting over the city from nearby forest fires. "But the clouds dispersed during the night, and the sun only had to break through the fog and the smoke," she wrote on the Astro-Bratsk.ru website. Here's a picture of the sun glowing red over the city:

Svetlana Kulkova

Svetlana Kulkova took this picture of the eclipse through the smog and fog hanging over the Russian city of Bratsk, using a Canon EOS 500D with a 55-200mm lens.

ChinaFotoPress sent along these views from Changchun in China's Jilin Province:

Chinafotopress / Getty Images

The partial solar eclipse looms over the landscape of Changchun in Cina's Jilin Province.

Chinafotopress / Getty Images

The partially eclipsed sun is partially obscured by haze at the horizon in this view from Changchun.

One of the weirdest views of this weird eclipse was sent in to SpaceWeather.com by B. Art Braafhart from Salla in the Finnish region of Lapland. "Nice to get a reaction about this wonderful nature moment!" Braafhart told me in an email. "I have received many positive reactions already." Dutch National TV is featuring a selection of his images, which follow the sun all the way down to the horizon during the eclipse. My favorite of the bunch would have to be the picture below, which shows the sun's "cat eyes" just before the last wedges of sunlight blink out. What a way to finish up an eclipse gallery!

B. Art Braafhart

This is one of a series of pictures taken from Sallatunturi, a resort in the Finnish region of Lapland. "It was the first night to observe the midnight sun, and then there was also the eclipse!" photographer B. Art Braafhart said in a note to SpaceWeather.com. "Almost perfect circumstances with some clouds. The sun tipped the horizon at the moment that the moon was covering the sun for the maximum what could be seen from my observation point. With two beautiful 'cat eyes' just above the horizon as a result."

More about eclipses:

Update for 1 p.m. ET June 7: Check out this time-lapse video of the eclipse, as captured by Eivind Kolstad from Norway. "Most of the world will never experience the midnight sun eclipse," Kolstad writes. "Scandinavia is the only densely populated area in the world where the midnight sun eclipse can be experienced."

To see the extent of this week's eclipse, and why it was so weird, check out this chart from Fred Espenak's NASA eclipse website, plus this animated image tracking the moon's shadow. We can look forward to four more eclipses this year — including similarly weird partial solar eclipses on July 1 and Nov. 25, and total lunar eclipses on June 15 and Dec. 10.

You can connect with the Cosmic Log community by "liking" the log's Facebook page or following @b0yle on Twitter. Also, give a look to "The Case for Pluto," my book about the controversial dwarf planet and the search for new worlds.