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 Annular Solar Eclipse of 2016 September 1st
 from Madagascar, Tanzania or La Réunion Island

To observe the 2016 September 1st annular eclipse, I was going to visit Madagascar and have some great time on the marvelous island with the best possible weather along the track particularly on its west coast. However late July 2016, due to unforeseen work constraints, I had to ditch my plans and switch over to a much shorter and far more flexible trip to La Réunion island. For a project with a Malagasy school I’m looking for a donation of astronomy gear, mainly small refractor telescopes with light mounts and ideally full aperture solar filters.
Along the path, the areas around Mbeya in Tanzania and Mahajanga in Madagascar are where the observation of the eclipse will have the best chance of being optimal due to the favorable weather prospects. For those looking to be near the edges of the path in order to have many more prolongued beads, Tanzania and Madagascar are the places to be as both northern and southern limits are easily accessible.

You can use this solar eclipse calculator to compute the local circumstances of the eclipse, and the solar eclipse timer notifies the beginning of the various events. A time exposure calculator is there to help you choose your camera settings.

Click on thumbnails for a larger version

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Annular Solar Eclipse 2016
Eclipse circumstances

Eclipse 2016 September Morning Mean Cloud Cover
Morning average cloudiness in September
(courtesy of Jay Anderson)

Annular Solar Eclipse 2016 Animation
Annular eclipse animation

The northwest of Madagascar will be a great place to view this annular eclipse from, both in terms of weather and scenery.

Ankarafantsika First Second Maximum Third Fouth Contact Simulation Madagascar
Simulation from first to fourth contact in the Ankarafantsika National Park, Madagascar

Landscape Ankarafantsika Lavaka Ankarokaroka Dirt Road Madagascar
Landscape in Madagascar inside the annular path: dirt road and lavaka of Ankarokaroka

Tanzania provides good accessibility to both limits, northern and southern, of the annular path.

Baily’s beads simulation two kilometers inside the northern limit in Tanzania

Solar Eclipse Geolocation Smartphone Tool

How to optimize your position using your smartphone

To know in real-time how good you’re doing in terms of position in relation to the the annularity path you can use this auto-tracking geolocation tool
or a more complex map (all the URL on one single line with no spaces)
Remove the ?Map=ROADMAP at the end of the URL if you want to stay in the default SATELLITE mode. Of course the map mode can still be selected once the map is loaded. And the road traffic can be displayed as well.

The tool has been tested with success on a variety of devices from iOS to Android, Windows Phone and Blackberry. Nevertheless please report any problem you may encounter and don’t forget to provide a screenshot and a detailed description.

Then to activate the tool click on the lower icon on the left side, the one looking like a blueish shooting target Solar Eclipse Geolocation Tool Icon. Once activated you should be prompted to accept being geolocated, so answer positively and the map should center on your current position and track your movements (it will work as well on a desktop computer connected via an Ethernet cable and even better via Wi-Fi). To deactivate the tool and stop the tracking click again on the button.
Depending on your device you may have to authorize geolocation in the general settings as well. For example on iOS or OSX you should do so in the privacy settings.
The detailed circumstances bubble is disabled while the auto-tracking geolocation is activated in order not to clutter the screen too much.

More there

One can see on the maps below that to get the clearest possible sky you have to be located on the lee side of La Réunion island. Locals from La Réunion will have to wait 184 years for next annular solar eclipse on 2200 October 9 and 251 years for the next total solar eclipse on 2267 September 19.

Annual Rainfall Temperature Map La Réunion
Map of the annual rainfall (in millimeters) and temperatures (°C) in La Réunion

The west coast of La Réunion at the LUX* Saint-Gilles will be a great place to view this annular eclipse from. The location of the hotel is approximately halfway from the centerline, and we can see that the Moon is decentered during the maximum and therefore the solar annulus will not be symmetrical.

Saint-Gilles-les-Bains First Second Maximum Third Fouth Contact Simulation La Réunion
Simulation from first to fourth contact in Saint-Gilles-les-Bains, La Réunion

Landscape Cirque Salazie Piton Fournaise Volcano La Réunion
Landscape on La Réunion island inside the annular path: natural circus and Piton de la Fournaise eruption

Baily’s beads simulation two kilometers inside the northern limit in La Réunion

During the solar eclipse the solar power plants on La Réunion island will endure a power loss for more than three hours compared to a regular sunny day. This power loss will match closely the obscuration curve.

Power Loss Obscuration Bardzour Solar Power Plant La Réunion

To estimate the cloud cover at annularity time you can use this regularly updated panoramic image taken from Colimaçons in Saint-Leu. Just browse this webpage around 10:10 UTC, that is is 2:10pm local time, and then scroll completely to the right inside the image to view the Sun.

And now from the Trou d’Eau beach in La Saline-les-Bains. Just browse this webpage around 10:10 UTC, that is is 2:10pm local time, and then scroll completely to the right inside the image to view the Sun.

Finally from the Passe de l’Ermitage beach (image refreshed every minute).

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Last page update on February 26, 2016.
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