Southeast Asia To See Total Solar Eclipse In March: NASA
Parts of Southeast Asia are in for a uniquely dark day time experience as NASA reveals a total solar eclipse on Mar. 8 EST (Mar. 9 local time).
The doomsday-like darkness will last for over a minute in every region affected.
Moon Gets In The Way
The rare occurrence happens when the moon passes exactly between the sun and Earth. The moon will get in the way and completely blocks the sun's luminous face, exposing only the corona - a comparatively dim solar atmosphere.
"You notice something off about the sunlight as you reach totality," says NASA scientist Sarah Jaeggli."Your surroundings take on a twilight cast, even though it's daytime and the sky is still blue."
Totality is the period with which the moon fully blocks the sun's surface. While people may start imagining how the sun, moon and Earth align perfectly near each other, that is not exactly the case.
Total solar eclipse is made possible by very precise planetary geometry, but that does not mean that the three cosmic objects at play are exactly the same in size. Therefore, it is not very wise to compare the occurrence to same-sized soccer balls that can obviously block one against each other.
While the sun is 400 times wider than the moon, it is also farther from the Earth by nearly 400 times compared to the moon. Such geometrical play creates an illusion for Earthlings that the moon and sun have the same size.
The entire path of totality runs for approximately 8,800 miles long and 97 miles wide, but people on Earth may only experience its effects for about one and a half to four minutes per area.
There is an interval of more than three hours between the time that the westernmost area sees the beginning and the easternmost region sees the end of the eclipse.
For comparison, partial total eclipse rarely exhibits noticeable light changes and the skies still remain bright.
Who Has The Best Views?
People living along the narrow path of totality are the only ones who are going to experience daytime darkness. Aside from some regions of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, the affected locations are not heavily resided by humans.
Those across Asia and the Pacific such as in Hawaii, Guam and some areas in Alaska will experience partial total eclipse. The occurrence will last for more than hour before or after the total solar eclipse.
NASA advises onlookers to use solar-filtered telescopes or pinhole projector to be safe. The agency warns that even if 99 percent of the sun is covered, the tiny bit of exposed sun can harm the eyes.
"You should never look at the sun directly," advises NASA.
The March eclipse is just one out five eclipses expected to take place in 2016. Three penumbral lunar eclipses will take place on Mar. 23, Aug. 18 and Sept. 16, while an annular solar eclipse will be witnessed on Sept. 1.