Skip to main content

Time warp: This week’s solar eclipse starts on Wednesday, but ends on Tuesday

This Wednesday, certain parts of the world will go dark beneath the shadow of a solar eclipse. For the most part, this event will be exactly like every other solar eclipse we’ve ever seen — but this time, thanks to the position of the Earth, something strange will happen. As it turns out, the eclipse will actually begin on Wednesday morning and end on Tuesday afternoon.

How is this even possible? This quirk is thanks to the International Date Line — the mid-Pacific split at 180 degrees longitude that marks the difference between one calendar day to the next. When events occur that cross the date line, it results in a timekeeping issue like we see here.

Unfortunately, those of us living in North America and Europe will not be able to see the eclipse, as it starts in Indonesia at sunrise local time on March 9 (around 0:00-0:30 GMT Wednesday), and then travels northeast toward Hawaii four hours later, which would be sunset March 8 local time. In total, the sun will be blocked for about four minutes.

Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 2.10.17 PM

Totality (when the sun is totally blocked out) will be seen in Indonesia and Southern Borneo, with 20 percent or more of the sun eclipsed seen as far north as Southeast China and Japan, and as far south as northwestern Australia. In Hawaii, about 70 percent of the sun will be blocked right around sunset, according to NASA.

Sorry America: no part of the eclipse will be viewable from the continental United States, as the sun will have already set. But if you’re not able to see it, don’t fret — just head over to The San Francisco Exploratorium’s website tomorrow. The organization will have a live stream from the small coral island of Woleai, about 500 miles north of the country of New Guinea and in the path of greatest time of eclipse.

Plus, the United States is in for an even bigger show in 2017. On August 21, the entire Continental US will see at least 60% totality with major cities such as Portland, Cheyenne, St. Louis, Kansas City, Knoxville, and Charleston, SC experiencing about two minutes of totality — and give the greatest number of Americans the chance to see a significant eclipse this century.

Editors' Recommendations