Total Solar Eclipse of 2016 March 9
on Ternate in Indonesia
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. 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. Thanks to the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy and the various local authorities for their help.
Ternate, the second largest island of the North Maluku archipelago, is usually the entry point for accessing the North Maluku islands because of its larger airport but also as being the ancient capital with its long history and notably the spice trade. The island of Ternate is off the centerline, but still offers 2 minutes and 45 seconds of totality. Moreover the other islands in the direction of the centerline, Tidore, Mare, Moti and Makian, are easily accessible from Ternate which means reaching 3 minutes and 14 seconds of totality is achievable.
However after multiple scouting trips in March, I finally chose the coast on the eastern side of the bigger sprawling island of Halmahera because it had the clearest blue sky and the best chances to view the eclipse. Because of the local terrain topography, certain locations clearly have the edge.
Nevertheless Ternate and the various islands to the south represent a good compromise for those who do not wish to venture to Halmahera. You should know that the accommodation available on Ternate and the other islands is relatively limited.
The picture below, taken in March 2015 a good hour before the time of totality, shows what you can expect from the sky over the islands of Ternate, Tidore, Mare, Moti and finally Makian. The centerline is located between Moti and Makian. The Gamalama volcano in the foreground, from which a few fumarolic gas escape, is the one that erupted in December 2014 triggering the closure of the airport during a few days. This active volcano erupts on a regular basis every couple of years.
From the foreground to the background one can notice the islands of Ternate, Tidore, Mare, Moti and Makian
On each of the islands there are many possible observing sites. Usually I recommend the east-southeast side of the various islands.
The main terminal of the Sultan Babullah Ternate airport
One of the articles relating one of my visits to the North Maluku (my firstname is misspelled as Xafier)