Total Solar Eclipse of 2016 March 8-9
in Indonesia, Micronesia or Airborne
The point of greatest eclipse (totality phase during 4 min 9 sec) was located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean east of Indonesia where about 10 million people lived inside the totality path. To observe the 2016 March 8-9 total solar eclipse, I proposed tours only in eastern Indonesia, in the Northern Maluku, where the ground weather prospects were the best and the duration the longest. However the local infrastructure was fairly limited. The Woleai atoll, belonging to Micronesia, was offering the longest land-based duration very close to its maximum but its airstrip was out of order so the logistics would have been far too complex even though going there on a boat was a possibility. There were numerous viewing locations along the path, however paying close attention to the weather patterns and local terrain topography was mandatory unless you were on a cruise ship in the Pacific Ocean where the sky was usually clearer. Moreover the 2015-2016 El Niño episode did somewhat improve the weather prospects in Indonesia.
This total solar eclipse was successfully viewed from numerous ground-based locations across Indonesia and also Micronesia. A few cruise ships observed at sea and airborne observations occurred as well from three aircrafts (two flights over Indonesia and one north of Hawaii had the chance to witness this marvelous natural event). The weather has usually been quite good considering the position of the locations along the equator, thanks likley to the El Niño episode even though the sky has not always been completely clear.
The satellite imagery animation below shows the umbral and penumbral shadows racing over Indonesia and the Pacific Ocean in less than five hours.
Animation of the umbra and penumbra from the Japanese Himawari-8 satellite from 23:30 UTC (March 8) to 04:30 UTC (March 9)
On the view below the diameter of the umbra is actually smaller than shown because the contrast had to be adjusted.
View of the umbra and penumbra from the Japanese Himawari-8 satellite at 02:00 UTC, shortly after greatest eclipse