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Spring Arrives With A Solar Blackout!

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Spring Arrives With A Solar Blackout!

For the first time since November 3, 2013, the Moon will completely cover the disk of the Sun on March 20, resulting in a total solar eclipse.

The dark umbral shadow cone of the Moon will trace a curved path primarily over the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans, beginning off the southern tip in Greenland and then winding its way counterclockwise to the northeast passing between Iceland and the United Kingdom.

The shadow will then pass over the Danish-owned Faroe Islands, the sparsely inhabited Norwegian island group of Svalbard, and then hook counterclockwise toward the northwest where it leaves the Earth’s surface just short of the North Pole.

The point of greatest eclipse occurs north of the Faroes, in the Norwegian Sea. By the standards of most eclipses, the Moon’s shadow projected onto the Earth’s surface for this event will resemble a huge ellipse of darkness measuring about 287 miles long by 93 miles wide. These unusual dimensions can be attributed in part to the fact that about 13½ hours earlier, the Moon will arrive at that point in its orbit closest to Earth (called perigee), 222,192 miles away. And because the shadow is passing over the Arctic, it is striking the Earth at a very oblique angle, resulting in its elliptical shape.

(Continued Below)

Check out this very interesting animation, depicting the elongated shadow’s path by solar eclipse enthusiast, Michael Zeller:

A shipboard observer who might be blessed with clear skies at the point of greatest eclipse would see the Sun completely obscured for 2 minutes, 46.9 seconds.  The town of Barentsburg, on Spitsbergen (one of the principal islands of Svalbard) will witness 2 minutes 30 seconds of total eclipse.

Unfortunately, the typical weather pattern for this part of the globe as the winter transitions to spring is not very favorable. The chances for a sky with clear to scattered clouds averages only 20.4 percent for the Faroe Islands and a little better; 34.6 percent for Spitsbergen.  But sometimes a place with poor weather prospects can get lucky. As the late American science fiction writer, Robert A. Heinlein, once noted: “Climate is what you expect, but weather is what you get!”

I myself plan to fly above any clouds on a specially-chartered jet that will attempt to rendezvous with the Moon’s shadow near the Faroes.  I will be the guest of the German companies, AirEvents and Eclipse-Reisen.

One final note: I mentioned that the Moon’s shadow will leave the Earth just shy of reaching the North Pole.  From the North Pole, the Sun is below the horizon for six months, from the occurrence of the autumnal equinox on Sept. 22 to the moment of the vernal equinox on March 20th.

But the equinox occurs more than 12 hours after the eclipse ends. So the Sun will be below the horizon and the eclipse will not be seen from the Pole, right?


In fact, if you were at the Pole, the entire Sun will be above the horizon and the total eclipse would indeed be visible.  How is this possible?  We can thank our atmosphere for acting as a lens and bending or refracting the image of the Sun above the horizon when, in actuality, it is really still below it!

So maybe even Mr. and Mrs. Claus will see it, weather permitting.

Eclipse Timeline (All Times Eastern Daylight):

3:41 a.m. – Partial eclipse begins
5:09 a.m. – Total eclipse begins
5:45 a.m. – Greatest eclipse
6:21 a.m. – Total eclipse ends
7:50 a.m. – Partial eclipse ends
Max Duration of Totality: 2m, 46.9s

Video link courtesy of Michael Zeller and

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1 Melissa { 03.20.16 at 2:56 am }

A lot if ignorance here & for people like Fran that comment, “people who read headlines then leave a comment because they’re too lazy to read through the article,” I think it’s that most of those people don’t have the time not that they are lazy.

2 grimgold { 03.06.16 at 2:00 pm }

Dear Jerri, Hi! I’m an American. Will we be able to see the eclipse? Have a great day! gm

3 perry.a. taylor { 03.20.15 at 10:21 pm }

Do people have no common sense.

4 Arv { 03.20.15 at 10:57 am }

I wish I could have been in Europe to view the Solar Eclipse but I guess pictures still tell a thousand words.

5 jerri { 03.20.15 at 8:45 am }

Ugh. Idiots. How many more Americans will ask? The United States WILL NOT BE ABLE TO SEE THE SOLAR ECLIPSE! It will NOT be visible in North America.

6 kmgrant { 03.20.15 at 1:52 am }

I don’t think u ppl r reading anything.. none of us here in the usa will be able to see it!

7 terry { 03.20.15 at 12:38 am }

If you are lucky enough to be able to see it. I would love to see a picture! I was so young when I got to see one, but it was amazing!

8 Susan Higgins { 03.20.15 at 10:30 am }

Hi Fran, share any pictures with us!

9 Fran { 03.19.15 at 6:36 pm }

Those who ask where the eclipse can be seen are typical people who read headlines then leave a comment because they’re too lazy to read through the article. It’s utterly annoying, but then again so is our current society. I’m looking forward to observing this eclipse carefully as I’m in a zone where I will be lucky enough to see it.

10 steve { 03.19.15 at 4:57 pm }

Dragitdown, guess not

11 Cindy { 03.19.15 at 3:39 pm }

The total eclipse will not be visible anywhere in the USA and will be seen only by folks on some rather remote islands in far northern Europe Friday morning. Residents of the Danish-owned Faroe Islands and the sparsely inhabited Norwegian island group of Svalbard will be the only lucky ones to see the full spectacle.

12 dragitdown { 03.19.15 at 11:53 am }

can’t you people read?? there’s even a map for christs sake.

13 Lisa { 03.19.15 at 9:38 am }

What time in ft. Pierce fl

14 jon { 03.19.15 at 9:31 am }

The total eclipse will not be visible anywhere in the USA and will be seen only by folks on some rather remote islands in far northern Europe Friday morning. See this link for more info:

15 Kristine { 03.19.15 at 8:47 am }

When will we see the Eclipse in Midland Texas

16 Yvonne Lacasse { 03.19.15 at 8:21 am }

when and will we be able to see it in sudbury ontario canada

17 louann kupiec { 03.19.15 at 8:09 am }

When should we expect this in the state of NY and where?Im in upstate, Albany area. Greta article.. Thank you.. and Blessings to you on this epic adventure!!!

18 vivian mcdorman { 03.19.15 at 7:45 am }

will we be able to see it in central Ne,?

19 Gary { 03.19.15 at 7:23 am }

What time in nebraska

20 Kim { 03.19.15 at 7:20 am }

What a great article. Do you know when can we expect to see it in Windsor Ontario Canada?

21 connie { 03.18.15 at 11:50 pm }

What time in Alberta

22 Amber { 03.18.15 at 10:42 pm }

What time for Alabama?

23 Brenda Riley { 03.18.15 at 10:08 pm }

I’d like to see it here in Indiana if possible, exactly what time on March 20 th will it happen?

24 Pat { 03.18.15 at 6:04 pm }
25 debbie { 03.18.15 at 5:43 pm }

Linda Hanson,
just where does it say Sunday, I have read and re-read and the only thing I saw is where it talked about the disk of the sun being covered on March 20, 2015

26 Linda Hanson { 03.18.15 at 5:23 pm }

March 20, 2015 is Friday not Sunday??

27 susan { 03.18.15 at 4:25 pm }

will we be able to view the total eclipse in New York ?

28 Becky Shanks { 03.18.15 at 3:43 pm }

My kids (and I) love all things celestial, solar and lunar. I understand the best viewing spots. But I’m confused on will the rest of the World see a portion of it? Maybe I misread.

29 Jesse R. Boehm { 03.18.15 at 3:01 pm }

Very informative article and web site! I always look forward to your posts and tips. Thank you and keep up the great work.

30 Ruth Liaudaitis { 03.18.15 at 10:08 am }

Very interesting article. We here in NC have not been able to see a total eclipse really well since about 1996 or there abouts. I am always interested in anything going on in the skies. Thank you.

31 buggs { 03.18.15 at 9:58 am }

Thank for the good article. Unfortunately we couldn’t view the video on our kindle. 🙁

32 Susan Wisecup { 03.18.15 at 9:29 am }

Thanks for the detailed and fascinating information. Wish we could see it in Ohio—

33 Cheryl { 03.18.15 at 9:15 am }

Thank you. Very interesting article. I really found the animated video about the solar eclipse fascinating.

34 Woodley M Boston { 03.15.15 at 2:59 am }

good article and great web site it has enhance my farming methods here in the carribean

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