TWICE IN THE LAST FIFTY YEARS
In 2014, it was announced that a solar eclipse would occur on March 9, 2016. The total eclipse would move from the Indian Ocean near South Pagai Island in West Sumatra and pass through a number of Indonesian provinces, ending at the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii. The archipelago has now witnessed two solar eclipses in the last fifty years, with the previous one occurring in 1983. While that eclipse was visible from areas of Java, Sulawesi, and Papua, this year’s eclipse was mainly seen in Palembang in South Sumatra, the Bangka and Belitung Islands, Palangkaraya in Central Kalimantan, Palu in Central Sulawesi, Ternate Island in North Maluku, and Halmahera in the Moluccas. Other parts of Indonesia, such as Jakarta and Bali, were treated only to a partial eclipse. As a fan of astronomy, I was keen to witness this phenomenon. Even though this was to be the second total eclipse in the last fifty years, another would not be occurring again for at least 350 years. This obviously meant that it was a once in a lifetime experience. I began to make preparations early.