Used to be you had to BE THERE to see a total solar eclipse, a rare event for any particular location. Not anymore. Now you just fire up the laptop or tap a phone and watch it live from your couch. Of course it’s not the same as making the journey, but the chances of me flying to Indonesia on a dime are slim indeed. The eclipse occurs along a narrow track mostly over the western Pacific, touching land in the Indonesian islands of Sumatra, Sulawesi, Borneo and parts of Micronesia.
Lucky skywatchers will see the lunar disk blank out the sun for up to 3 1/2 minutes during mid to late morning hours on Wednesday March 9th. For the U.S., that’s around 8 p.m. Central time Tuesday evening March 8. A partial eclipse will be visible across a much broader region including New Guinea, parts of China, Australia and Hawaii. Citizens of Hawaii’s capitol, Honolulu, will see 63% of the sun covered at 5:37 p.m. local time Tuesday at maximum eclipse.
The rest of us can watch it live thanks to the herculean efforts of two groups. San Francisco’s Exploratorium will collaborate with NASA and the National Science Foundation to live stream the event from Woleai, Micronesia. The 3-hour-plus webcast begins on Tuesday at 6 p.m. CST (7 p.m. Eastern, 5 p.m. Mountain, 4 p.m. Pacific and midnight Universal Time). You can follow their adventures by visiting the team’s blog.
The SLOOH online observatory will also be setting up shop with astronomer Paul Cox, who will travel to the remote countryside of Indonesia to livestream the eclipse starting at 5 p.m. CST (6 p.m. EST, 4 p.m. MST, 3 p.m. PST and 11 p.m. Universal Time). Cox will be accompanied by Astronomy magazine writer Bob Berman and a team from the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands (IAC), and will provide updates of his journey throughout the week on Slooh, according to the website.
Nice as electronic viewing is, many of us can’t wait to see a total eclipse in the flesh. We’ll finally get our wish in a little more than a year, when the moon’s shadow crosses the U.S. on August 21, 2017.