The 2016 Total Solar Eclipse will occur in Indonesia on 9th March 2016, at precisely 08.58.19 West Indonesia Time. Scientists agree that this exceptional and extraordinary phenomenon will be best visible in Indonesia from a number of cities across an arch over archipelago These cities include : Palembang and Tanjung Pandan (on Sumatra) ,Palangkaraya, Balikpapan (in Kalimantan) Palu (Central Sulawesi) , Ternate (North Maluku) , and Sofifi (Papua)
The news has attracted global “eclipse hunters” from multiple backgrounds, astronomers, enthusiasts, photographers, and scientists, to the general public to make early plans from and arrange trips following the path of the eclipse in Indonesia. A number of international tour operators have already made Total Solar Eclipse tour packages to Indonesia, among whom are Astro Trails and Telescope.
Indonesia’s shipping company, PT.PELNI reported that there are now already at least 4 cruise ships who have registered to cross Indonesian waters during the specific dates, which are the National Graphic’s Orion Cruise, Caledonian Cruise, Coral Princess Cruise, and Peter Deilmaan Cruise. The most popular areas chosen as starting points are Banda Aceh in the Aceh Province and. Teluk Kumai, entry port to the Tanjung Puting orangutan reserve in Central Kalimantan, continuing to the Makassar Strait up north all the way to Halmahera Island in North Maluku.
“We also provide Total Solar Eclipse tour packages for tourists in Indonesia who wish to witness the extraordinary event. These are the KM Lawit (100pax) that will sail to Bangka Belitung; KM Dorolonda (300pax) and Nyapulu (200pax) that will sail to Palu; and the Dorolonda (3000pax) and Lambelu (2000pax) to sail to Ternate” explained Budi Santoso, Senior Manager of PELNI Shipping Agency, during the seminar entitled “Discover Indonesia’s Solar Eclipse 2016” in Jakarta, 16th December 2014.
Meanwhile, PATA Indonesia Chapter (PIC), as member of the prestigious Pacific Asia Travel Association deemed that the total solar eclipse could promote and elevate regional tourism potentials. Which is why, PIC in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism and other parties will also promote this spectacular event.
“This is a kick off for PATA Indonesia to talk with other parties to be aware of the importance of the coming solar eclipse. We encourage local stakeholders to beprepared for this and come up with programs; these should include record breaking attempts during the eclipse” stated Poernomo Siswoprasetio, Chairman of PATA Indonesia Chapter.
How to Observe the Total Solar Eclipse
According to the Head of Bosscha Observatory in Bandung, Mahasena Putra, the eastern part of Indonesia (North Maluku Province) has the best chance topresent the best view of the eclipse due to the expected thin clouds there and relatively long duration of the eclipse that can be seen here. In the city of Ternate the total solar eclipse can be seen for 2 minutes 35 seconds, while the town of Maba in East Halmahera Regency will enjoy the longest duration to view the eclipse for 3 minutes 19 seconds, before the total solar eclipse continues over the Pacific Ocean.
As seen from planet Earth, a solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between the Sun and the Earth, when the Moon will fully or partially block (“occults”) the Sun. Mahasena Putra continued that partial eclipses may, in fact, occur as often as 13 times a year, however, the chances of a total solar eclipse are reallyrare.
A total solar eclipse can be seen with the naked eye, however during the process when the moon disc is about to fully block the sun, one will need a filter such as a solar screen, pinhole, or a telescope projection. This tool is needed to prevent blindness to the eyes.
“During the seconds of the total solar eclipse, the sun will generate a very strong blinding light which will cause damages to the naked eye” added Mahasena.
The total solar eclipse was seen in Indonesia on 11th June 1983, which occurred over the mighty Borobudur Buddhist temple. At the time, Indonesia’sNational Television Network (TVRI) broadcast the entire event. The phenomenon was repeated on 24th October 1995, however, it happened very briefly and wasonly visible on the small island of Sangihe in North Sulawesi. Mahasena expects that the 2016 total solar eclipse can be broadcast via webcast such as through efforts currently being prepared by the Indonesia Astronomy Body and the Ministry of Communication and Information.
The City of Palu Gears Up for the Total Solar Eclipse
The city of Palu, capital of Central Sulawesi Province will be among Indonesian cities to bepassed by the total solar eclipse of 2016 and is currently the target of tour operators from many countries. Until now, the city’s three largest hotels are reported already fully booked for the period. Among those who have booked are operators from Japan (55 rooms), USA (250 rooms), and England (75-100 rooms). Promotions continue to be boosted, however, since Palu will have three new hotels in 2015, which are: the Hotel Best Western, Hotel Double R and Hotel Sultan Raja.
“The best point to observe the total solar eclipse will be centered at the coast of Palu Bay which is right in the heart of the city and not too far from the location of many hotels ” explained Bambang Nugraha, Secretary of the Office of Tourism and Creative Economy of Central Sulawesi.
For the total solar eclipse 2016, the city of Palu is already making all necessary preparations including infrastructure improvement, adding more hotel rooms,add transportation, security, as well as organize various pre- events such as carnivals and festivals (including Sail Tomini 2015), and monitor the latest developments on the eclipse with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
Aside from Palu, another city in Central Sulawesi which will be passed by the total solar eclipse is Gumbasa in the Sigi Regency. The Vice Mayor of Palu, Andi Mulhanan Tombolotutu explained that international tour operators have also included Gumbasa in their itineraries complete with marine activities.
“Starting from Palu, they will head to the Equator Monument, before observing the eclipse in Gumbasa, then continue to Tomini Bay for diving and to watch the colonies of bats” said Andi.