If you’re in the Eastern stretches of the world early next week, you might just be treated to a solar eclipse.
A total solar eclipse, where the Sun is completely obscured by the Moon, will be visible from certain regions of Indonesia (and the middle of the Pacific Ocean, if you happen to be out there). However, larger chunks of East Asia, Southeast Asia, and Australia will be able to see a partial eclipse, where some but not all of the Sun is obscured.
The event will occur between 11:19 p.m. GMT on March 8 and 1:59 a.m. GMT on March 9. In regions where the total eclipse is visible, totality (complete darkness) will occur for about four minutes. The video from NASA below shows the regions it will be visible from.
Solar eclipses occur when the Moon strays in between Earth and the Sun, temporarily blocking out the sunlight. There are generally at least two solar eclipses around the world every year, but while that might make them sound relatively common, the chances of being in the right place at the right time is fairly slim. For example, the last total solar eclipse visible from the United States was in 1979, with the next one in August 2017.
As beautiful as the solar eclipse may be, staring at the Sun (even when it’s partially blocked out) for even a few seconds can harm your eyes due to the intense UV radiation. As such, you must use special equipment to view them. You can either purchase a pair of solar eclipse glasses, or make your own equipment as this NASA guide shows.
For those not in Indonesia, a livestream of the event will be available on the Slooh website.
A map illustrating the "path" of the March 2016 solar eclipse and where you can view it from. Image credit: NASA
Main image credit: Hiroki ONO/Flickr. (CC BY 2.0)