If you’re looking for a total eclipse of the Sun that is particularly challenging to get to, this is the one. Starting at sunrise in the Atlantic Ocean just east of the southernmost tip of South America, the path of totality heads south, barely touches the South Orkney Islands, and then sweeps across a portion of the Antarctic that’s due south of South America. Maximum duration of totality – 1 minute 54 seconds – occurs just before the Moon’s shadow touches Antarctic. After spending less than 30 minutes crossing the white continent, the eclipse ends at sunset in the extreme south of the Pacific Ocean.
Totality in the Antarctic will be spectacular — the eclipsed Sun, set against a deep blue sky, hanging above the pristine whiteness of the ice-capped continent. The challenge will be getting to Antarctica, though Antarctic Logistics & Expeditions (ALE) runs a summer camp on Union Glacier that is situated within the path of totality. It has been reserved by TravelQuest and is ideal for those seeking to witness totality from all seven continents. Numerous eclipse cruises will be available, with many leaving from Ushuaia, Argentina. These cruises will intercept totality in the morning, at sea somewhere between the South Orkneys and the Antarctic ice pack. Airborne viewing options are also likely, with possible flights originating in Santiago or Buenos Aires.
This is a rare hybrid eclipse that begins as an annular at sunrise, is total along the majority of the path, and reverts to an annular at sunset. An annular eclipse occurs when, at mid-eclipse, the Moon doesn’t completely cover the Sun, leaving a blazing ring of sunlight (an annulus) around the black lunar disk. However, this eclipse is total along more than 99 percent of its path. The greatest duration of totality, over the Timor Sea northwest of Darwin, Australia, is 1 minute 16 seconds.
With so much of the eclipse path passing over water, numerous eclipse tours will charter ships to see totality from the Timor Sea region. Some will depart from Darwin, with Australia as a pre- and post-tour favorite. On these cruises, excursions to Papua New Guinea, Bali, and other exotic islands comprising the Indonesian archipelago will be popular. There are very few land-based options for eclipse viewing. Timor-Leste (on the island of Timor) and West Papua (an Indonesian province on the island of New Guinea) are the only major islands along the path. But totality does pass over the tiny Exmouth Peninsula on the western edge of the continent. Here the odds of clear skies are high, and excursions into the Australian Outback beckon.
For the second time in seven years, regions of the United States witness a total eclipse of the Sun. But unlike the “Great American Eclipse” of 2017, this year’s totality also includes Mexico and Canada. Beginning at sunrise far south of Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean, the eclipse sweeps over water until reaching land at Mazatlán, Mexico. The site of longest totality, 4 minutes 28 seconds, is just northeast of Durango, Mexico. From there, the path of totality moves northeast into Texas, traversing parts of 15 states as it makes its way northeastward toward Canada. After crossing portions of six eastern Canadian provinces, the eclipse heads out to sea and ends at sunset in the Atlantic Ocean.
Totality falls across numerous large American cities including San Antonio, Austin, Dallas, Indianapolis, Cleveland, and Buffalo. The northern edge of totality slices through the island of Montreal, Canada. Millions of Americans are within easy driving distance of the path of totality, but many tours will head to Mexico where the weather prospects are superior to those elsewhere along the path. In northern Mexico, eclipse chasers can explore cactus-strewn deserts, mountain ranges, and numerous canyons, including beautiful Copper Canyon, a group of six distinct canyons in the Sierra Madre mountains.
Beginning at sunrise in the far north of Russia, the path of totality speeds over the Arctic, barely missing the North Pole. It heads south, passing down the east coast of Greenland before touching westernmost Iceland, including Reykjavik. At maximum duration just off the west coast of Iceland, totality is 2 minutes 18 seconds. After passing Iceland, the total eclipse slides south and curves east as it traverses the eastern Atlantic Ocean before finally touching land again in northern Spain. Here it sweeps across Spain’s fabled wine country, including the medieval city of Burgos, before ending at sunset in the Mediterranean. The Spanish island of Majorca sees totality just before the Sun sinks into the sea.
The track of totality crosses three very different observing locales. Although challenging to reach, the vast, glacial expanse of the eastern portion of Northeast Greenland National Park provides a stunning setting for totality, with centerline duration of totality near maximum. With its fascinating geology, volcanoes, and Viking history, western Iceland offers a more accessible route to totality, though weather prospects are not ideal. The combination of clear skies and the Rioja wine region of north-central Spain will undoubted appeal to many, though the Sun at totality is low.
As is often the case, the eclipse begins in an ocean (the Atlantic) at sunrise, and ends in an ocean (the Indian) at sunset. In between, the path extends across north Africa – Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt. Tangier and Gibraltar will see nearly 4 minutes of totality in the morning, with Egypt enjoying the eclipse at noon. The maximum length of totality, a wonderfully long 6 minutes 23 seconds, occurs close to Luxor in Egypt. After Egypt, the path crosses the Red Sea. In Saudi Arabia, both Jeddah and Mecca experience a total eclipse for more than five minutes. After passing over Yemen and the northeastern tip of Somalia, totality never touches land again before ending at sunset.
This eclipse will be popular. Egypt, thanks a long totality and its museums, pyramids, and other antiquities, will likely be even more crowded than usual. While weather prospects along the Mediterranean part of the track are good (better inland than right on the coast), it will be hot, as daytime temperatures may be in excess of 40° Celsius (100° Fahrenheit). With part of totality’s path over water off the coast of Libya, eclipse cruises are a likely alternative to land-based excursions.
After its sunrise start in the Indian Ocean, the path of totality crosses two remote islands – the Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Christmas Island – before reaching the northern tip of Western Australia near noon. Maximum totality, 5 minutes 10 seconds, occurs some 200 kilometers inland, well to the southwest of Darwin. As the path heads southeast, it sweeps across the Australian Outback and the Great Dividing Range before passing over Sydney in the afternoon. Once across the Tasman Sea, the eclipse passes over the southern portion of the South Island of New Zealand. Dunedin experiences totality an hour prior to sunset, and observers can watch the barely eclipsed Sun sink into the Pacific.
With its lengthy totality, Australia will be a popular destination for eclipse viewing. The beautiful but rarely visited Outback, including northwestern Australia, is the place to be for the longest totality and the clearest skies. Cruising to totality off Australia’s northwestern coast is another option, with excursions to Papua New Guinea, Bali, and other exotic islands that comprise the Indonesian archipelago. Sydney is an easily accessible destination, though a shorter totality and cloudier weather prospects may discourage some. At totality’s end, the weather in New Zealand is challenging.
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