A total solar eclipse occurs on Wednesday, 29 March, 2006, in Brazil, Africa, Turkey, and Asia. This will be a spectacular eclipse, lasting over 4 minutes at maximum and visible by millions of people over a path up to 190km wide.
This is a fantastic chance to see a great eclipse, and should be made the most of by Europeans in particular, as it will be their last easy chance to see a total eclipse of the Sun in many years. The next total eclipse in Eurasia is 1 August 2008, visible in central Russia, Mongolia and China, for more adventurous travelers; then 22 July 2009, visible in India and China; then 20 March 2015, visible from the Faroes, if the sky is clear. The next total eclipse of the Sun in mainland Europe is in 2026.
There's not even another African total eclipse until a narrow hybrid eclipse in 2013. The Americas will likewise be going through a total eclipse drought: after the beginning of this 2006 eclipse in Brazil, as shown below, there's only the tail of the July 11 2010 eclipse in southern Chile and Argentina until the major north American eclipse on 21 August 2017.
Given the great viewing conditions which should be available in Turkey for this eclipse, within relatively easy reach for most of Europe, this truly is an opportunity not to be missed.
The total eclipse starts in eastern Brazil at 08:34:29 UT, and ends in northern Mongolia at 11:48:01 UT. The maximum eclipse is at 10:11:22 UT, when the total phase will last just over 4 minutes. Details of where the total eclipse can be seen from are shown in the maps below.
The partial eclipse will be visible over most of Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and most of Asia between 07:36:53 UT and 12:45:45 UT. The central UK will see the Moon 20% covered; 30% in the far south-east of the UK, and in north-west Spain and France, and Denmark; 40% in south-east Spain, central France, and central Germany; 60% in central Italy; 80% in Greece.
More information on this eclipse may be found at these sites:
You can plot the eclipse for yourself using the table of mapping co-ordinates.
Please note that these maps are very approximate. Check with reliable sources before making travel plans.
This map shows the path of the total eclipse:
The total eclipse begins at local dawn, 08:36 UT in Brazil. The path is 129km wide here, and the eclipse will last almost 2 minutes; however, it quickly moves off the mainland into the Atlantic.
The eclipse reaches the African mainland at 09:10 UT, rapidly crossing Ghana, Togo, and Benin, then passing into Nigeria. The south-east corner of the Ivory Coast might just be in the path of totality (though obviously the duration would be very short there). The zone of totality is about 185km here, and on the centreline it will last for 3 minutes 30 seconds.
The total eclipse moves on through Nigeria and into Niger, passes through a corner of Chad, and then into Libya. The point of greatest eclipse is very near the Libyan border; here, the path width will be 183km, and the total eclipse will last for 4 minutes 6 seconds.
The path crosses Libya, and then just clips Egypt, before crossing into the Med at 10:40 UT.
After Africa, the eclipse path crosses the Med to Turkey, where it hits land about 10:54 UT. The path width is 171km, and the duration on the centreline is 3 minutes 48 seconds. After this, it crosses the Black Sea, cuts a corner of Georgia at 11:16 UT, and then enters Russia, running across the north end of the Caspian Sea.
The following map, reproduced from the NASA eclipse bulletin by Fred Espenak, shows more detail for Turkey:
The path of totality crosses into Kazakhstan at about 11:26 UT, at the north end of the Caspian Sea; the path is now down to 156km wide, and the total eclipse lasts just over 3 minutes on the centerline. The path crosses Kazakhstan, re-entering Russia at about 11:44 UT, and then finally ends on the border with Mongolia at local sunset, 11:46 UT. The path at this point is 126km wide, and the total eclipse will last 1 minute 51 seconds.
During the total phase, if you have a clear sky, the sky should go quite dark -- not quite as dark as midnight, but dark enough to see the planets, and even some stars. Here's what the southern sky should look like at 11:05 UT, seen from mid-Turkey (it will be pretty similar everywhere else):
Looking south, you can see the Moon obscuring the Sun just to the west of south; down and to the right are Mercury and Uranus. Uranus will probably be far too faint to see, but Mercury should be quite visible; this is a rare chance to see the innermost planet of our solar system, as it's normally too close to the Sun to see. Farther down and right, Venus should be very bright indeed, although quite close to the horizon. Tip: look for Mercury about half-way between Venus and the Sun/Moon.
Here's a view to the east:
Saturn should be very bright just north of east, although very close to the horizon; Mars should be visible higher up, but not as bright.
Copyright (C) 1995-2005 Ian Cameron Smith.
visits since 18Aug05. Last modified: Tue Feb 28 20:21:20 GMT 2006 ($Revision: 1.17 $)