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Clouds to ruin solar eclipse for thousands

Tens of thousands of tourists, scientists and amateur astronomers who travelled from around the world to see a total solar eclipse in northern Australia may be getting shortchanged by the weather.

Forecasters were predicting cloudy skies around dawn tomorrow, when the moon will pass between the sun and Earth and plunge a slice of Australia's northeast into darkness.

"There will be breaks, but it's just a matter of the luck of the draw whether you get a break at the right time," said Queensland state Bureau of Meteorology. "It's a bit of bad luck."

The eclipse will cast its 150km shadow starting at dawn in Australia's Northern Territory and then cross the northeast tip of the country before swooping east across the South Pacific.

Some Queensland hotels have been fully booked for more than three years and more than 50,000 people have flooded into the region to watch the solar spectacle.