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A total solar eclipse visible from Indonesia and the central Pacific region takes place on March 9, 2016. On this occasion the narrow totality band starts at sunrise over Sumatra before passing through Bangka Island, Palau Belitung, Central Kalimantan, Central Sulawesi, North Maluku, Woleai Atoll and ending in the Pacific Ocean north of Hawaii. A partial eclipse is visible from large parts of Southeast Asia, Northern Australia, Papua New Guinea, Hawaii, China and Alaska. Readers should be aware that since the shadow crosses the International Date Line for locations such as Alaska and Hawaii the eclipse takes place on March 8th.

A total solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes directly between the Earth and the Sun, hence the Sun's disk is obscured as seen from the ground. Total eclipses are only possible due to a large slice of nature's luck. By sheer coincidence the Sun is about 400 times larger in size than the Moon but also 400 times more distance resulting in both objects appearing about the same size in the sky. However, it should be noted that due to distance variations the apparent sizes of the Sun and Moon do show small variations and at times the Moon will appear slightly larger in the sky than the Sun and vice-versa. A total solar eclipse occurs when the Moon's apparent diameter is large enough to completely cover the Sun and therefore block all direct sunlight, in the process turning day into darkness.

The path of totality occurs inside a narrow band that has a maximum width of only 267 kilometres (167 miles). On the other hand, a partial solar eclipse can be seen over a region spanning many thousands of kilometres.

Total Solar Eclipse (Fred Espenak/NASA)

Eclipse Path on March 9, 2016

The diagrams below shows the visibility of this eclipse and the path of totality (Moons umbral shadow). From Palembang, Sumatra, Indonesia the partial phase begins at local time 06:20:29 and ends at 08:31:27 with totality lasting for 1 minute and 53 seconds from 07:20:48 to 07:22:41. Residents in Ternate, Maluku Islands, Indonesia will experience 2 minutes and 39 seconds of totality (from 09:51:40 to 09:54:19). The maximum eclipse occurs later in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with a totality duration of 4 minutes and 9 seconds.

The partial part of the eclipse is visible over a much greater region. For example, northern Australia will experience up to a 60% partial eclipse, Thailand a 50% eclipse and Japan a 20% eclipse.

Solar Eclipse of March 9, 2016 (Fred Espenak/NASA/GSFC)

Animation of the Solar Eclipse of March 9, 2016 (A.T. Sinclair/NASA)