An example of a Previous Solar Eclipse

 - 9th March 2016 Total Solar Eclipse

A Solar Eclipse, the apparent Transit (passage) of our Earth-gravity-tethered Moon across the face of our Sun (as viewed by us from Earth), is a relatively common celestial phenomenon, and occurs in 3 main forms: Partial, Annular & Total. 


During a Total Solar Eclipse, the oval/circular/oval, totally dark total shadow (umbra) of the moon (up to 267 km wide) cast upon our World's surface races from west sinuously eastwards at a speed varying from about 2,000 to 6,000 km/h with a path length up to almost 15,000 km.  Around this rapidly-moving dark total shadow, a vast area of our World's surface is thrown into the partial shadow of our Moon--the penumbra.


Solar eclipses occur on average just less than once a year, with only some of them being Total.  Of these, many spend two-thirds of their duration casting their shadow only over the oceans or the polar regions, and only touch land briefly.  Such will be the case for the eclipse of Wednesday 9th March 2016, when over a half million Indonesians will experience the Totality of 100% shadow, however a partial solar eclipse up to 90% obscuration will be experienced by 100s of millions of citizens (and billions of creatures!) in the remainder of Indonesia and throughout eastern and south-eastern Asia, much of Australia, Pacific Ocean, Hawaii and western Alaska, which will persist for over 2 hours in any one place, & though less dramatic than Totality, is still not to be missed.


The narrow track for this total solar eclipse begins at local sunrise on March 9th just south of the equator in the Indian Ocean about 1,200 km S.E. of Sri Lanka, races east then northeast, passing south of Malaysia & Singapore across the Indonesian provinces of South Sumatra, southern Borneo & Central Sulawesi, slowing  down in traversing the Molucca Sea and beginning to enter the western Pacific passing to the north of West Papua (off Australia’s Northern Territory), then over the Micronesian atolls of Woleai. Then accelerates across the Date Line and races into extinction by sunset (the day before – Mar 8th!) in the North Pacific Ocean to the N.E. of Hawaii. Although traversing in all over 13,500 km across the face of our planet, the total journey time of this great racing shadow is only just over 3 hours. 

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