People gazed at the sky in wonder and cheered while others knelt in prayer as a total eclipse of the sun unfolded over Indonesia.

The rare astronomical event is being witnessed Wednesday along a narrow path that stretches across 12 provinces encompassing three times zones and about 40 million people. In other parts of the Indonesian archipelago and Asia, a partial eclipse is visible.

Nurjanah Hassan, a mother of three in Ternate in eastern Indonesia that will be one of the last places to see the eclipse, says "I'm so happy that I can see this rare phenomenon in my life."

Experts say the total eclipse can be viewed with the naked eye but special filters should be used during its partial phases.

Thousands of eclipse-chasers have come from abroad.