UPDATE, MARCH 9: This year's only total solar eclipse wowed skywatchers in parts of Indonesia and the Pacific Ocean region on Tuesday. It appeared as a partial solar eclipse over Hawaii, parts of Southeast Asia, Australia and Alaska, Space.com reported. The moment of totality, when the moon passed directly in front of the sun, lasted a few minutes. (Watch the special moment in the NASA video below.)
Get ready, sky watchers! The total solar eclipse is upon us and things are about to get gloomy.
Parts of southeast Asia will turn dark from 6 p.m. EST on Tuesday as the moon passes between the Earth and the sun. You can watch the spectacular celestial show unfurl at the same time here:
The eclipse begins over Indonesia (where Slooh is broadcasting from) and will travel 8,800 miles northeast over Borneo, Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Ocean. At its widest point, the shadow of the eclipse will measure 97 miles across.
"The cool thing for those who are going to be in the path of totality is that they are going to be able to see the outer atmosphere of the sun called the corona," C. Alex Young, a solar astrophysicist from NASA, told The New York Times. "This is only visible from the ground during a total solar eclipse."
The spectacle will last for three hours, and at each location the eclipse will block out the sun's light for anywhere between 90 seconds to 4 minutes.
"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. "A partial eclipse will also be visible along the path of totality for over an hour before and after the total eclipse."
The space agency created this animation to detail the path that the eclipse's shadow will take:
As usual, NASA warns people not to look directly at the sun during the eclipse. Instead, it recommends using solar-filtered telescopes, eclipse glasses or pinhole projectors.
As the moon and sun don't orbit in the exact same plane, total solar eclipses occur only about once a year. Northern Europe and parts of Asia and Africa were treated to a total solar eclipse in March 2015, while the shadow of the next total solar eclipse will move from west to east across the U.S. on Aug. 21, 2017.
Here's where it will cross:
NASA scientists plan to take 59 several-second exposures of the sun in just over three minutes during this eclipse, capturing data about the sun's volatile and super-hot atmosphere.
"The sun's atmosphere is where the interesting physics is," Nelson Reginald, a scientist ay NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, who will be participating in the research, said in a statement. "A total solar eclipse gives us the opportunity to see very close to the solar limb."