Astronomical Adventures ASTRO ADVENTURES
Exclusive Tours
with Astronomical Themes
Astronomical Adventures Continental Capers Home Page CONTINENTAL CAPERS
Serving Travelers
Worldwide Since 1970
Journeys of a Lifetime


2016 March 1-17

Home Page Overview Ship Ship Decks Ports Excursions About the Eclipse Costs Reservations Reservation Form T-Shirts Cruise Info Terms and Conditions Booklets Site Map



The East Indies (Indonesia) and the vast expanse of the western North Pacific Ocean will witness a spectacular total solar eclipse during March 2016

Intro  •  Path  •  Animation  •  Weather  •  Circumstances  •  Sky  •  Saros

Eclipse Movie

Fig. 1. A Total Eclipse of the Sun. This movie shows a total solar eclipse beginning as a partial eclipse with the Moon moving from upper right down toward lower left. The eclipse then continues through totality with bright coronal streams and red flame-like prominence. The eclipse then concludes with another partial eclipse. Click image for "Why See a Total Eclipse of the Sun." (Cred. H.L. Cohen)

Residents of Earth's fourth most populous country, Indonesia, in the Malay Archipelago, will have the opportunity to witness a total solar eclipse (Fig. 1). This favorable circumstance gives visitors opportunities to experience one of nature's greatest spectacles and to explore the diverse cultures, customs, peoples, geography and the habits of unique plants and animals in this land that has managed to blend so many radically different peoples. (See Itinerary.)

Return to Top of PageReturn to Top of Page

Eclipse Path

Fig. 2. Total Eclipse of 2016 Mar. 9. Path of totality begins in the Indian Ocean and ends approximately 9,000 miles northeast of Hawaii. Greatest eclipse duration is 4m09s in the equatorial Pacific Ocean. Curved lines adjacent to the total eclipse path show regions of decreasing partial eclipse with eclipse magnitudes from 80% to 0%. Click diagram to enlarge. (Cred. Diagram adapted from Fred Espenak, NASA's GSFC.)

The narrow track for the total eclipse begins at sunrise just south of the equator (2 degrees) in the equatorial Indian Ocean approximately 800 mi. (1,300 km) west of Sumatra. The path then extends eastward across the southern part of the island of Borneo (world's third-largest island) and through Indonesia before heading northeast across the North Pacific Ocean ending at sunset 1,100 mi. (1,800 km) northeast of the Hawaiian Island chain (Fig. 2).

Greatest eclipse (4m 09s) occurs in the tropical Pacific waters but this is about 1,600 mi. (2,500 km.) west of the East Indies. In the Indies, however, mountains, hills, highland regions and isolated islands make land-based sites in some parts of Indonesia or its inter-island waters the most practical bet for most eclipse chasers. Here the center line totality lasts about 2 to 3 minutes.

A partial solar eclipse will occur over eastern and southeastern Asia, much of Australia and the Pacific Ocean, Hawaii and western Alaska. None of the eclipse is visible from the mainland USA, South America, Europe or Africa.

Observers must be in the narrow track of totality to see a total eclipse!

Note: Longest possible duration for a total solar eclipse is about 7m32s. Durations more than six minutes are rare with longest of the 21st Century (approx. 6m39s) in 2009. (Next longest is 2027 August 2, maximum duration 6m23s.)

Return to Top of PageReturn to Top of Page


Fig. 3. Animation of the 2016 March Total Solar Eclipse. The small black dot and large grayish area represent the umbral and penumbral shadows respectively. The moving darker, crescent shaped area shows nighttime regions. The upper right corner shows Universal Time or UT (Greenwich Civil Time). Lower right corner shows instantaneous duration of the total eclipse. (Cred: Andrew T. Sinclair*)

Figure 3 shows an animation of the lunar shadow moving across the Earth's surface. The moving black dot (maximum width about 97 mi. or 156 km) shows locations of total eclipse. The penumbra, displayed as a large grayish region (about 5,000 mi or 8,000 km across), sweeps across the Earth from west to east. Everyone within the penumbra's path sees a partial eclipse of the Sun. Outside the path, no eclipse is visible.

The Moon's dark umbral shadow appears as a tiny black dot (about 156 miles or 180 km wide) at the center of the penumbra. Near the point of greatest eclipse the umbra moves across the Earth at a speed of about 1,400 mi/hr (about 2,000 km/hr). Only those within the narrow umbral path see a total eclipse, which reaches maximum duration (4m09s) in the equatorial Pacific Ocean roughly 800 miles east of Indian islands.

The moving darker, crescent shaped area shows nighttime areas of the Earth. From start to finish, the umbra takes approximately 3-1/4 hours to sweep across the Earth as it travels from the Indian Ocean to northeast of Hawaii.

*Sinclair, previously at the Space Geodesy Group & also Nautical Almanac Office at the former Royal Greenwich Observatory, has authored many such animations.

Return to Top of PageReturn to Top of Page

Eclipse Path Over Indosesia

Fig. 4. Total Solar Eclipse Track Through Indonesia The ms Volendam plans to observe the total eclipse in the Makassar Strait between the islands of Borneo/Kalamantan and Sulawasi. However, the ship may maneuver to take advantage of the best weather conditions in this area — an advantage for shipboard observers. Click map to enlarge. (Map adapted from Eclipse Predictions by Fred Espenak, NASA's GSFC & Google Maps.)

The March eclipse begins at sunrise in equatorial Indian Ocean waters west of Sumatra, moves through Indonesia and bends northeast into the higher tropical latitudes north of Hawaii before ending at sunset. (See Fig. 1 again.) The equatorial location of Indonesian controls its climate, influenced by annual north/south movement of the Intertropical Convergence Zone — a low pressure zone where easterly trade-winds from the Northern and Southern hemisphere meet. Year-round equatorial heat and humidity over these tropics can destabilize the atmosphere producing convective clouds and heavy precipitation. In addition, daily heating of the land and wind interaction with topography also promotes instability producing complex cloud patterns.

Since the Intertropical Convergence Zone moves north and south with the annual movement of the Sun, Indonesia has seasonal wet and dry spells. In the western islands, this influence becomes substantial. Indeed, on Sumatera and Kalimantan, the peak of the monsoon season occurs in March.

Hence, heaviest clouds and precipitation occur over the western island of Sumatera and Kalimantan during March. Farther east, rainfall decreases and wet and dry seasons become less obvious. In fact, the more easterly islands can have about half the precipitation and less cloud cover in March than the more westerly islands. East of the island of Maylaysia's Borneo and Indonesia's Kalimantan lies the Makassa Strait where Holland America's eclipse cruise ship, the ms Volendam, plans to observe the eclipse (Fig. 4).

In addition, cycles of daily heating and cooling also makes water areas and small islands less cloudy than those on the larger land masses. Thus, ship-based observers will have definite advantages for this March eclipse since ship mobility gives access to the lowest cloud amounts and better skies on eclipse day.

[Weather summary adapted from Jay Anderson: Maps & Weather Statistics for the March Eclipse]

Return to Top of PageReturn to Top of Page


Holland America's ms Volendam plans to observe the eclipse in the Makassar Strait (see Fig. 4). The March solar eclipse begins about 1-1/4 hours after sunrise in the Makassa Strait (7:27 a.m. local time) and ends 2-1/2 hours later (9:57 a.m.) with totality beginning about 8:35 a.m. Hence, this is an early morning event. Since the ship may maneuver to find the best weather location, circumstances (including locaton) given here (Table 1) are approximate.

Time Note: Indonesian recognizes three time zones in its territory: Indonesia Western, Central and Eastern Standard Time (WST, CST & EST). These time zones are 7, 8 and 9 hours ahead of Greenwich or Universal Time (UT). The location of the Makassar Strait lies in the CST (UT+8). Daylight time is not used. Local times given below are thus in Indonesian CST.

Table 1. Circumstances of the Eclipse
2016 March 9 (Wednesday)

Observing Location Makassa Strait  
Latitude 1° 31'.8 S  
Longitude 118° 38.0 E  
Time Zone* +8h (8h later than UT; 13h later than EST in USA).
(USA Daylight Time effective on March 13, 2016)
Sunrise (on eclipse day) 06:12 a.m. local time*  
Eclipse Times & Sun's Position Local Time* Altitude Azimuth
Partial Eclipse Begins (1st Contact) 07:27 a.m. (00:27 UT) 18° 94°
Totality Begins (2nd Contact) 08:35 a.m. (00:35 UT) 35° 94°
Mid-Eclipse 08:37 a.m. (00:37 UT) 35° 94°
Totality Ends (3rd Contact) 08:38 a.m. (00:38 UT) 36° 94
Partial Eclipse Ends (4th Contact) 09:57 a.m. (01:57 UT) 55° 96°
Information About Totality
Duration 2m 46s  
Eclipse Magnitude§ 1.019  
Moon/Sun Size Ratio 1.0378  
Shadow Width 83 mi. (133 km)  


*Local Zone Times used (Indonesian Central Standard Time or CST), which is 8h later than Greenwich or Universal Time (UT). (Eastern Standard Time is 5h later than UT.) Indonesia does not use daylight time.

Eclipse Times including maximum eclipse duration depend on several factors including the position of the observer and the moon's limb profile, and are approximate. Actual values may differ by several second.

Altitude & Azimuth represent the elevation of the Sun above the horizon and its angular distance around the horizon eastward from north respectively.

§Magnitude refers here to the eclipse magnitude (fraction of solar diameter hidden) and not the magnitude of a celestial object, which is a measure of brightness. See Notes to Table 2 and Glossary.

Solar Filters: Guests of Continental Capers will be given safe solar viewers for non-optical use to allow viewing the partial phases of the eclipse. (No filters needed to view totality.) For more information see our page about Eye Safety.

Return to Top of PageReturn to Top of Page


Searching the darkened eclipse sky is one of many eclipse activities. However, viewing the darkened eclipse sky should not have priority over the eclipsed sun itself.

Still, for those who want information on the eclipse sky, several planets and a few bright stars may be visible. See Table 2 for list of some of the brighter stars and Fig. 5 below, which shows the eastern sky at the time of the eclipse. However, even most of the brighter stars may not be easily seen and some are very near the horizon where the eclipse twilight glow will also hide them.

Table 2. Planets & Bright Stars in the Eclipse Sky at Time of Total Eclipse
Object  Magnitude1 Altitude2 Azimuth3 Elongation4
Sun/Moon 35° 94°
Mercury -0.6 46° 105° 13°
Venus -3.9 55° 112° 23°
Mars +0.1 33° 248° 108°
Saturn +0.5 47° 240° 93°
Achernar +0.5 147° 45°
Altair +0.8 79° 16° 53°
Antares +1.1 38° 237° 99°
Arcturus 0.0 290° 134°
Deneb +1.2 41° 15° 61°
Fomalhaut +1.2 41° 15° 26°
Rigel Kentaurus 0.0 41° 208° 104°
Vega 0.0 126° 26°

Table Notes: (See Glossary for more details)

  1. Magnitude (abbrev. mag.) Refers to the magnitude scale, an astronomical scale of brightness. Algebraically decreasing values designate brighter objects. Do not confuse with eclipse magnitude (fraction of solar diameter hidden) as used in Table 1. See Glossary for more details.
  2. Altitude Angular distance in degrees above an ideal horizon.
  3. Azimuth Angular distance in degrees from north (measured toward the east).
  4. Elongation Angular distance in degrees from the Sun.
Summary of Eclipse Sky and Sky Map
The Eclipse Sky

Fig. 5. Total Eclipse Sky Seen from Indonesia at time of the 2016 March 9 eclipse, the totally eclipsed Sun (near the northern edge of Aquarius) appears 35° above the eastern horizon about 2h24m after sunrise. The prominent objects (above the eclipsed Sun) are Venus and Mercury. Click figure to enlarge. (Credit: H.L. Cohen)

Venus, although not near greatest brilliancy, blazes brightly (mag. -3.9) and should be easily visible about 20° above and to the right of the eclipsed Sun.

Mercury, closest planet to the Sun, lies roughly between the Sun and Venus, and should also be visible (mag. -0.6) though about twenty times fainter than Venus.

Saturn will be in the western sky about half way between the horizon and overhead and about as bright common first magnitude stars (mag. +0.5). However, keen eyes might see the ringed planet if one really wants to turn around from the eclipsed sun.

Mars, although fairly bright (mag. +0.1), like Saturn, lies in the western sky about one-third of the way from horizon to overhead.

Jupiter will not be visible since it is nearly opposite the sun.

Bright Stars The only moderately bright star near the eclipsed sun is Fomalhaut (one of the fainter "first magnitude" stars) although several others appear in the eclipse sky (Fig. 5). This includes stars of the "Summer Triangle" (Vega, Deneb and Altair) in the northern sky. Yellow-orangy Antares will rival nearby Mars, which is, however, slightly brighter. The stars Arctaurus, Achernar (or Alpha Eridani) and Rigel Kentaurus (or Alpha Centauri) are close to the horizon and will likely be invisible especially due to horizon glow from distant sunlight shinning from beyond the moon's shadow.

Again limit your search for stars or planets (except possibly Venus and Mercury)
or one may miss the main attraction!

Return to Top of PageReturn to Top of Page

Edmund Halley

Fig. 6. Edmund Halley. Halley may be responsible for giving calling the eclipse cycle the Saros. Halley, it seems, mistakenly took it from the Suda, a large 10th Century, Byzantine encyclopedia. (Wikipedia). Portrait by Thomas Murray, circa. 1687, Royal Society, London. Click image to enlarge.

Eclipses occur in families or cycles called the Saros. The 2016 March eclipse belongs to a series of eclipses that are members of Saros 130.

The Saros eclipse cycle is a period of about 6,585.3 days (18 years 11 days 8 hours). Two eclipses separated by one Saros cycle have similar geometry (similar duration, same time of year, etc.). However, they are separated in longitude about one-third of Earth's rotation since the Saros cycle ends in approximately one-third of a day. The periodicity and recurrence of solar eclipses as governed by the Saros are useful for organizing eclipses into families. Edmund Halley (1656–1742), of Comet Halley fame, may have been the first to use the name "saros" for this eclipse cycle (Fig. 6)

A typical Saros series lasts about 12 to 13 centuries and contains 70 or more eclipses. Eclipses in a given cycle typically start as partial eclipses and later become central eclipses (annular or total) with increasing and then decreasing durations. The longest duration occurs about halfway through the period. Finally the cycle ends with partial solar eclipses more than one thousand years after the cycle first began. More than one Saros cycle operates simultaneously so that eclipses occurring over a period of years do not necessarily belong to the same Saros. For example, the 2017 August 21 total solar eclipse belongs to Saros 145.

Saros 130 Solar eclipses of Saros 130, including the 2016 March 9 eclipse, first began with a partial eclipse 1096 Aug. 20 and will end with a partial eclipse 2394 Oct. 25 after a period of about 1,298 years containing 73 eclipses. The 2016 eclipse is 52nd in this cycle.

Maximum durations of totality are now decreasing for Saros 130. The total eclipse in this Saros previous to the 2016 eclipse (maximum duration 4m09s) occurred 1998 Feb. 26 with maximum duration southwest of Panama of also 4m09s. Next after in Saros 130 is 2034 Mar. 20 in north central Africa again with a duration of 2m09s. Longest duration of totality in Saros 130 happened back in 1619 July 11 and lasted 6m41s in central Africa. The last total eclipse in this Saros occurs 2232 July 18 with a maximum duration of only 1m14s. Nine more partial eclipses will then end Saros 130.

Return to Top of PageReturn to Top of Page

More Information
Home  •  Overview  •  Ship & Staterooms  •  Ship Decks  •  Categories by Deck  •  Itinerary
Ports  •  Shore Excursions  •  Eclipse & Weather  •  Costs  •  Reservations  •  Reservation Form
T-Shirts  •  Cruise Info  •  Terms & Conditions  •  Bill of Rights  •  Disclaimer  •  Booklets
Site Map
Return to Top of Page
Images and content copyright


Voyages Home    About Us    Escorts    Contact Info    Disclaimer

A World of Wonders—See Them With Us
Page last updated February 8, 2016
Send comments or suggestions to
All content unless otherwise credited © 2016
HL/MP Cohen & Continental Capers Travel Center, Inc. • Tzell Travel Group Member