Next week, the sky will get very dark for some people across the world. Between Tuesday, March 8 and Wednesday, March 9, a total solar eclipse will occur.
A solar eclipse occurs when the moon blocks the sun’s face and casts a shadow on the Earth’s surface. The event only occurs about once a year as the sun and the moon do not orbit on the exact same plane.
“The moon blocks the light of the sun's surface very, very precisely," said astronomer Sarah Jaeggli, from NASA’s Goddard #Space Flight Center. "You can see all the way down to the roots of the corona, where the atmosphere meets the sun's surface."
Only some people will see the event. The 2016 solar eclipse will begin around 6 p.m. over Indonesia and move on a northeastward path. People in other parts of the world will only see a partial eclipse. The moon’s shadow will be approximately 8,800 miles long and 97 miles wide.
Video: the path of the eclipse
“Though only people along the narrow path of totality will see the total eclipse, millions more will see some degree of a partial solar eclipse in Asia and the Pacific, including Hawaii, Guam and parts of Alaska," NASA said in a statement.
Total solar eclipses are only possible because of a unique planetary phenomenon. While the sun is 400 times wider than the moon, it is also 400 times farther from Earth during an eclipse. To observers on the ground, the sun and the moon appear to be the same size in the sky, allowing for the complete blockage of the sun’s surface.
Depending on a person’s location on Earth, the eclipse will last anywhere from 90 seconds to four minutes. The event should only be viewed with a solar-filtered telescope, eclipse glasses or a pinhole projector. Although nearly 100% of the sun will be obscured, any part of the sun still visible can significantly damage the eyes.
The full shadow of the eclipse will pass over Indonesia
If you miss the total solar eclipse in 2016, you’ll get another chance on August 21, 2017. This one will cast a coast-to-coast shadow across the U.S. For the average person, observing a complete solar eclipse only happens once in a lifetime. #Science