When, where, why: All about this year’s first total solar eclipse

  • HT Correspondent, New Delhi
  • Updated: Mar 08, 2016 18:45 IST
A partial solar eclipse is visible over a statue located at the rooftop of the Museum of Natural History in Vienna on March 20, 2015. (AFP)

You may have to wake up early this Wednesday if you want to witness 2016’s first total solar eclipse. Don’t worry if you give it a miss, a robotic telescope service will be live streaming/recording the event.

The rare and awe-inspiring spectacle will unfold over parts of Indonesia and the Indian and Pacific Oceans on March 9.

From India it will be seen as partial solar eclipse at sunrise. It will be visible from most places of India except from North West and western parts of the country. As one moves towards the east of the country, the duration of the partial eclipse increases reaching up to a duration of about one hour and more in extreme north east India and in Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

If you’d like to know at what times you can watch the eclipse across different Indian cities, access the spreadsheet link.

What is a solar eclipse?

Sometimes when the moon is orbiting Earth, it lines up directly between the sun and our planet. When this happens, the moon blocks the sunlight. As the sun is eclipsed during this phenomenon, it is called solar eclipse.

A solar eclipse happens during the daytime, and the moon casts shadows onto Earth. Daylight grows dim and can sometimes be as dark as night for a while if the moon blocks almost all of the sunlight.

Where will the eclipse be visible?

The total eclipse is visible within a roughly 100-150 kilometer-wide path that begins in the Indian Ocean and slices across parts of Indonesia including Sumatra, Kalimantan and Sulawesi, before ending in the northern Pacific Ocean.

This animation by NASA tracks the path of this year’s eclipse.

People in South Asia, East Asia and the north and east of Australia may see a partial eclipse.

How long will the eclipse last?

The entire eclipse, which begins with the first patch of darkness appearing on the edge of the sun, will last about three hours. For the viewer, the exact duration of the total phase of the eclipse depends on their location along the path. The moments in which the sun is entirely obscured will last between 90 seconds and 4 minutes. Palembang in Sumatra will be the first major city to see the total eclipse, at about 7:20 a.m. local time. The position at which the total eclipse lasts the longest – 4 minutes and 9 seconds – is in the Pacific Ocean east of the Philippines. On land, the durations are mostly between 1 and 3 minutes.

Solar eclipses happen once every 18 months. They only last for a few minutes. The last solar eclipse visible from all parts of India was seen on January 4, 2011. We will see the next solar eclipse on December 26, 2019.

Live coverage

People can watch a live webcast of the eclipse by the robotic telescope service SLOOH.com.

Slooh will beam multiple feeds from the Pacific Basin region along the path of totality, including coverage from the Indonesian countryside.

We have embedded the live coverage in this page. Come back and watch the broadcast which begins March 9, from 4:30 am to 7: 30 am. You can watch it live, or come back to see the replay later.

Information: NASA website, AP, PIB

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