March 2016 Solar Eclipse: What You Need To Know

Heads will roll come March 8, if you’re still into that whole lost Incan worship ritual, and we aren’t talking about Sleepy Hollow (one of my favorite Halloween movies of all time) but rather the impending total solar eclipse that will take place from the 8th into the 9th in the wee hours of the night.

Solar Eclipse: What You Need To Know

An eclipse occurs when the moon passes directly between Earth and the sun. When the moon’s shadow falls on Earth, observers within that shadow see the moon block a portion of the sun’s light.

The upcoming event with be a total solar eclipse, yes, but most of the world’s vast populaces won’t be within its shadow. However, if you happen to be in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Borneo or the middle of the Pacific Ocean, then you’re in luck.

The eclipse will begin shortly after 6 p.m. (AEST) over Indonesia and then move northeastwards for the next 3 or so hours over Borneo before moving out over the Pacific Ocean.

The path the total solar eclipse will take is known as the path of totality, and it will cover an area of 14,162 km (8,800 miles) long and 156 km (97 miles) wide at its widest point. Each place on the path of totality will experience darkness for 1.5 to 4 minutes.

“Though only people along the narrow path of totality will see the total eclipse, millions more will see some degree of a partial solar eclipse in Asia and the Pacific, including Hawaii, Guam, and parts of Alaska,” said NASA. “A partial eclipse will also be visible along the path of totality for over an hour before and after the total eclipse.”

ABC News reports that people living in northern Australia – “basically anyone north of a line drawn between Perth and Rockhampton” – will also get to see a partial solar eclipse on March 9.

A Room With A View

The good news is NASA’s got you covered.

In a partnership with the Exploratorium Science Center in San Francisco, NASA will host activities around the March 8 total solar eclipse, including opportunities to talk with solar scientists and live coverage of the eclipse originating from Woleai island in Micronesia.

NASA will host a Facebook Q and A at 2 p.m. EST on Monday, March 7, with solar scientists from NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

At 1 p.m. on Tuesday, March 8, solar scientists from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, will participate in a Reddit Ask Me Anything.

NASA Television will begin coverage at 8 p.m. on March 8. The period of total eclipse, called totality, will occur from 8:38 to 8:42 p.m.

Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and Instagram users will be able to join the conversation and ask questions using the hashtag #eclipse2016. The NASA Twitter account for the eclipse is @NASASunEarth.

NASA further says that a partial eclipse will be visible in parts of Alaska, Hawaii, Guam and America Samoa.


Are you excited about the upcoming solar eclipse? Does NASA’s live coverage spell a change for the future of astronomy hobbyists and enthusiasts around the world? Comment below and share on Facebook.