Alaska News

Clouds likely to block most Alaskans' views of partial solar eclipse Tuesday

A total solar eclipse passing over the Pacific Ocean on Tuesday will generate a partial eclipse visible over much of the Pacific Rim. Though the weather might not cooperate for Alaskans to get a good look, those aboard a flight from Anchorage to Hawaii that's intentionally rescheduling its departure will be afforded a prime view from high over the Pacific Ocean.

During the eclipse, occurring over Anchorage from about 5:40 p.m. until sunset, the moon will pass between the Earth and the sun, blocking sunlight to a varying extent depending on where it's viewed from. Peak coverage of the sun will be at about 6:10 p.m. in Anchorage.

A NASA projection of eclipse-viewing areas shows the path of totality sweeping over the Pacific on a northeast course, beginning Wednesday morning over Indonesia and continuing across the international date line north of Hawaii during Tuesday afternoon local time -- which, as The New York Times noted, means the eclipse will begin on March 9 and end on March 8.

Emily Niebuhr, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Anchorage, said Monday that a weather system was likely to block views of the eclipse from the city.

"Unfortunately, because we do have that system pushing in, it will be mostly cloudy across the region," Niebuhr said. "We probably won't see it in Anchorage with the persistent cloud cover."

In Southcentral Alaska, Niebuhr said, Talkeetna and Gulkana might have the best chances of seeing the eclipse, and even that wasn't likely.

"It's not going to be a very good chance," Niebuhr said. "It's going to be mostly cloudy."

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Fairbanks was forecast to have partly cloudy skies, and conditions in Juneau were expected to be cloudy.

Though Alaskans may not have high hopes for Tuesday's eclipse, at least one group was guaranteeing themselves a good look. A collection of scientists and eclipse-chasers will be aboard an Alaska Airlines flight traveling from Anchorage to Honolulu -- a flight that the airline has delayed by 25 minutes to ensure the eclipse coincides with the aircraft's position over the North Pacific.

That means dedicated eclipse enthusiasts -- and a collection of unsuspecting passengers likely headed for a Hawaiian vacation -- will be able to view the event from 30,000 feet.

Chris Klint

Chris Klint is a former ADN reporter who covered breaking news.

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