Total Solar Eclipse on March 9, 2016


Path of the solar eclipse of March 8-9, 2016.

The year’s only total solar eclipse occurs next week on March 8-9, 2016. The narrow path of totality runs from the eastern Indian Ocean, across the islands of Sumatra, Borneo, Sulawesi, and on into the Pacific Ocean north of Hawaii. Armadas of ships carrying astronomical tourists are on the way to the area, especially to the region of maximum totality well north of Papua New Guinea where the eclipse will last an impressive 4 minutes. For readers of this site on the way to see this magnificent event, I wish you clear skies and calm seas.

East of the international date line, this total solar eclipse occurs on the morning of March 9, 2016. At the eastern edge of the eclipse path, the Sun rises during the eclipse. The Moon’s shadow then moves northeastward at 1,000 mph and crosses the dateline west of Hawaii. The total eclipse is visible in the Pacific Ocean north of Hawaii in the late afternoon of March 8, 2016.

Find more details and timing of the eclipse at this link.

For those of us not planning to make a last-minute trip to Indonesia, the San Francisco Exploratorium is planning to hold a live online broadcast of the eclipse. Learn more at this link.


Handheld image through an H-alpha solar telescope of the partial eclipse of October 23, 2014.

While the band of totality is narrow and passes mostly over ocean, a partial solar eclipse is visible over a much wider area including much of southern China, all of Japan, and most of Australia except for the southeast (where most of the population lives). As the map above shows, northern Australia should see about 50% of the Sun covered at maximum eclipse, while observers in Hawaii will see about 65-70% of the Sun covered. To safely see the partial eclipse, you will need some form of safe solar filter for your telescope or “eclipse glasses” for casual naked-eye observation.

This is the last total solar eclipse until August 21, 2017 when the Moon’s full shadow will pass across the continental U.S. for the first time since 1979.

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