Under African skies

At the end of the day when the sun drops down, the dust settles and after a short twilight transition then the African skies change dramatically. The temperature drops and millions of cicadas starting playing music. That is even the time when the sky looks like washed and then suddenly the first stars appear. It’s the time to enjoy the evening under African skies in the Kalahari desert.

That reminds me of the song “Under African Skies” from Paul Simon. For sure. one of the amazing things in South Africa is the night sky. However, today I’m dreaming under African skies and enjoy Paul’s song. The Kalahari is the right place for such dreams.

South Africa has a huge territory with a low density of population. The light pollution has a very low level compared to Europe or other areas in the world.

In the Northern Cape province, light pollution is extremely low. I’ve never seen such a clear and undisturbed night sky. That is exactly the moment of fantastic stargazing experience.

For instance, one of the most famous constellations is the Cross of the south. The cross is only visible in the southern hemisphere. From East Java in Indonesia, the Cross of the south is visible just a bit over the horizon. Here in South Africa, the cross is easy to identify. Because it’s much more above the horizon.

Orion and its belt with all the nebulas are an incredible rich constellation. It’s easy to watch them even with naked eyes only. Sirius close to Orion is a bright and brilliant star. With his intense twinkling, it’s amazing to explore this star.

Dozens of astronomy freaks traveling year by year to South Afrika because of very good observing conditions. The African skies are a spectacular stargazing experience for everybody.

A total solar eclipse on 2016 March, 9

A total solar eclipse on 2016, March, 9 occurred in Indonesia. Unfortunately, the eclipse is visible only as a partial eclipse from Tuban, East Java, Indonesia. Accordingly, the occultation in Tuban was 85% at maximum. That’s enough to still turn the day into twilight and to get a great experience of a total solar eclipse.

In fact, the eclipse starts in East Indonesia at sunrise over Sumatra. The end was at sunset north of the Hawaiian Islands. However, the last eclipse I could watch was from Khartoum, Sudan. It was the annular solar eclipse on January 15, 2010.

The shaded area began in the West Indian Ocean and ends in the North Pacific finally. When in the west the day began, the day in the east was already over and it became night.

Almost all islands of Indonesia like Sumatra, Kalimantan, and Sulawesi will experience the totality on this day. A few islands in Micronesia will experience the totality on this day as well. So far, on Java Island and the rest of Southeast Asia, Malaysia and Japan will experience a partial solar eclipse only. Moreover, most of Australia, Hawaii, and western Alaska will experience a partial solar eclipse as well.

Fortunately, on 2016 March, 9 was a holiday in Indonesia. So, Indonesia could follow the occurrence on an off day. The eclipse occurred in the morning time. I worried about a clear sky and a good view. Because in March the rainy season in East Java is not yet over and the weather prediction wasn’t good. Indeed, I hope to have a lot of luck with the weather on this day.

The sky becomes cloudy

The sunrise started in a clear and unclouded sky. Slowly but surely, the moon moved in front of the sun. Until the maximum occultation, the daylight changed like during sunset. While the day turned to night, the birds stopped chirping during the twilight time. Later on, the daylight changed again but now like during a sunrise. Unfortunately, in the last 40 minutes of the eclipse, the sky becomes quickly cloudy and the view unsettled. Overall an exciting moment definitively, with a spectacular eclipse.

Total solar eclipse on 2016 March, 9

Common information (Time = UT):

Maximum phase: 1.046

The beginning of the partial eclipse: 23h 19m 6s
The beginning of the total eclipse: 0h 15m 41s
Maximum phase: 1h 56m 57s
Ending of the total eclipse: 3h 38m 8s
Ending of the partial eclipse: 4h 34m 39s

Maximum eclipse:
Longitude: 148° 51.6′ E;  Latitude: 10° 6.6′ N

ET-UT = +8

Local circumstances (Time = UT + 7.0h):

9. March 2016 AD
Maximum phase: 0.875

The beginning of the partial eclipse: 6h 20m 53s
Maximum phase: 7h 25m 9s
Ending of the partial eclipse: 8h 38m 35s

Position angles:
The beginning of the partial eclipse: 260.1°
Ending of the partial eclipse: 60.7°