This year’s eclipse is visible from parts of Indonesia and Micronesia.
The moon will pass in front of the sun, casting its shadow over much of Southeast Asia on March 8, 2016 EST (March 9 local time). People on the nearly 100-mile-wide path of totality will experience a total solar eclipse, in which all of the sun’s bright face is blocked by the moon, while people outside this path will see varying degrees of a partial eclipse.
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Here some of the local times. The reason the date changes is because the eclipse path passes through the international dateline.
- Palembang, South Sumatra, Indonesia, local times starts: 6:20am max: 7:21am ends: 8:31am on Mar. 9
- Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, local times starts: 7:27am max: 8:38am ends: 10:00am on Mar. 9
- Sofifi, North Maluku, Indonesia, local times starts: 8:36am max: 9:53am ends: 11:21am on Mar. 9
- Midway, US Minor Outlying Islands (PARTIAL ECLIPSE), local times starts: 3:04pm max: 4:20pm ends: 5:29pm on Mar. 8
- Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.A. (PARTIAL ECLIPSE), local times starts: 4:33pm max: 5:36pm ends: 6:33pm on Mar. 8
CREDITS: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/E. Wright
“This is still the best movie of a total solar eclipse I’ve ever seen.”
– Ryan O. Milligan, Ph.D. on The Sweeping Shadow by Colin Legg – Australia 2012
CREDIT: © Colin Legg
“You notice something off about the sunlight as you reach totality. Your surroundings take on a twilight cast, even though it’s daytime and the sky is still blue.”
– Sarah Jaeggli, a space scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, who has seen two total solar eclipses
Why does NASA observe eclipses?
- NASA funds science research during eclipses. Eclipses offer the chance to study our sun’s atmosphere in ways we cannot replicate with instruments.
- Throughout history, eclipses provided some of our first glimpses of the corona and of coronal mass ejections.
- Understanding the sun’s atmosphere, the corona, helps us understand what accelerates the solar wind, what drives explosive clouds of solar material called coronal mass ejections that can cause space weather disruptive to satellites and radio communications near Earth, and what causes the corona to be so much hotter than the surface of the sun.
- We can see the sun’s corona using devices called coronagraphs, but we cannot build a coronagraph as good as the moon passing in front of the sun. The large size of the moon and its distance from us means less stray light from the sun can scatter around the edges and interfere with observations of the sun’s faint atmosphere.
- The next eclipse after March 2016 is a total eclipse visible from the U.S. in 2017.
Scientists Nelson Reginald and Natchimuthuk Gopalswamy describe the experiment they will do during the 2016 eclipse in Indonesia.
As the moon slowly covers the face of the sun on the morning of March 9, 2016, in Indonesia, team of NASA scientists will be anxiously awaiting the start of totality – because at that moment, their countdown clock begins. They plan to take 59 several-second exposures of the sun in just over three minutes, capturing data on the innermost parts of the sun’s volatile, superhot atmosphere – a region we can only observe during total solar eclipses when the sun’s overwhelmingly bright face is completely blocked by the moon.
In partnership with Exploratorium, NASA TV will be showing a live stream of the eclipse on March 8, 2016, from 8-9 pm ET. Read more here »
CREDIT: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center
Coming soon: Solar Probe Plus to study eclipses
What we can see around the sun during an eclipse is the atmosphere that NASA’s Solar Probe Plus – launching in 2018– will dive into. Solar Probe Plus will fly closer to the sun than any other man-made object ever has, approaching to almost 3.7 million miles above the sun’s surface.
The spacecraft will be exposed to harsh radiation and temperatures of 2,500° F. By sampling the near-sun environment, Solar Probe plus will revolutionize our knowledge of the solar material that the sun flings out into space.
In addition to helping us understand the solar system, such information helps us characterize and forecast the radiation environment in which future space explorers will work and live.
Eclipses, transits & the search for planets
- NASA’s Kepler space telescope searched for planets by looking for telltale dips in a distant star’s brightness caused by transiting planets.
- NASA’s upcoming TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) spacecraft, launching around 2017-2018, will find exoplanets the same way, but in the stellar backyard of our solar system covering 400 times the sky area.
- WFIRST (Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope), launching in the mid-2020s, will have a coronagraph that works as a built-in “eclipse,” to blot out the light of a star and allow scientists to better characterize orbiting exoplanets.
Eclipses & the theory of general relativity
A total solar eclipse on May 29, 1919, helped prove the theory of general relativity. Scientists could only observe how light from distant stars bent around the sun during a time when the bright light of the sun was obscured. Learn more about how here.
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CREDIT & THANK YOU TO: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center & Karen Fox