March 9 total eclipse expected to last longer in Central Sulawesi

March 9 total eclipse expected to last longer in Central Sulawesi
Members of the media try to get photos at a press briefing by the Indonesian Agency for Meteorological, Climatological and Geophysics about the upcoming March 9 total solar eclipse, at their headquarters in Jakarta on February 11, 2016. A total solar eclipse will occur on March 9 and can only be seen from parts of Indonesia.

It has been predicted that the much anticipated total solar eclipse, forecast to occur on March 9, will last for a longer length of time in Central Sulawesi.

While people in several areas across Indonesia, such as Halmahera, Palangkaraya, Sampit, Balikpapan, Bangka, Belitung and Palembang, will enjoy the rare opportunity to witness the total solar eclipse on March 9, the experience is expected to last longer in Central Sulawesi.

For a few minutes, up to 98 per cent of the sun will be hidden from view when the moon almost entirely covers it, quickly leaving the sun's radiant corona shining behind it as if it were a golden halo.

"People in Central Sulawesi will be fortunate to witness the event for a longer length of time as it will cross the sky over the districts of Sigi, Donggala, Palu, Luwuk, Parigi Moutong, Tojo Unauna and Poso," Central Sulawesi governor Longki Djanggola said on Sunday, as quoted by Antara news agency.

The governor said that thousands of residents and tourists will have the opportunity to watch as the sun darkens the sky over those districts during the day.

"We have prepared a number of arts performances and cultural activities to entertain visitors," said Longki.

Around 3,000 tourists from 12 countries have confirmed their plan to visit to the province in order to witness the solar eclipse, said the head of the Central Sulawesi Tourism Office, Siti Norma Mardjanu.

"The large number of foreign tourists will be accommodated in hotels available in Palu and Poso, while some of them will stay in the homes of local residents," Siti said.

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the Earth and the Sun, totally or partly obscuring the sun. A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon's apparent diameter is larger than that of the sun, blocking all direct sunlight and turning day into darkness.

Indonesia last experienced the rare phenomenon in 1988, visible from Bangka, Belitung and South Sumatra.

"This year's solar eclipse in South Sumatra and Bangka-Belitung will be similar to the one in 1988. The difference this time is that it will turn toward the southern part of Kalimantan and Central Sulawesi, part of South Kalimantan, East Kalimantan, West Sulawesi and North Maluku," the National Institute of Aeronautics and Space (LAPAN) head Thomas Djamaluddin said recently.

The last time a total solar eclipse passed over the country was in 1995, lasting two minutes and visible only from Sangihe, a small island in North Sulawesi.

Since independence, Indonesia has experienced 18 partial solar eclipses, nine total solar eclipses and six annular solar eclipses.

A partial solar eclipse occurs when the moon blocks only part of the sun's disk, while an annular solar eclipse occurs when the moon is a new moon or too far away and subsequently too small to completely cover the sun's disk, forming a ring of light.

Several parts of Indonesia will experience the event as a partial solar eclipse along with other places in Southeast Asia, such as Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Manila and Bangkok, as well as northern and eastern Australia.

While the total solar eclipse will see more than 90 per cent of the sun covered, in Java, 50 to 60 per cent will be covered.

The next total solar eclipse to occur in Indonesia will be in 2023.

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