While Alaska and Hawaii are the only two states in the U.S. that will be able to observe even a portion of the solar eclipse that is occurring in the South Pacific today, the solar event will be less than awe-inspiring for Alaskans as we will only be able to see the eclipse if we have a clear, unencumbered view of the south-southwest sky when it happens. The eclipse in South-Central Alaska will begin shortly after 5:30 pm and maximum extent will occur at 6:10 pm.
Viewers in western Alaska, particularly in communities along the Aleutian Chain, will be able to see the partial eclipse as the moon passes along the bottom portion of the sun, but, the further to the east Alaskans are, the less likely that it will be view-able. For instance, by the time the event reaches southeast Alaska, the sun will have already set, and the phenomena will be below the horizon. Cloud cover in south-central Alaska will also play a factor in viewing. The weather forecast is calling for cloud cover throughout most of the day.
However, Alaskans aboard Alaska Airlines Flight 870, leaving Anchorage for Hawaii will be able to observe the total eclipse as the jet makes its way to its destination, as the aircraft is scheduled to intercept the eclipse along its flight-path 695 miles north of Honolulu. Alaska Airlines delayed the scheduled flight 25 minutes to accommodate the umbraphiles among their passengers.[xyz-ihs snippet=”adsense-body-ad”]
Among those passengers scheduled to make the flight are semi-retired astronomer, Craig Small, he is aboard to view his 31st eclipse. Also aboard, will be Dan McGlaun, who will be viewing his 12th eclipse. Dan will be bringing an extra 200 pairs of special viewing glasses so that everyone aboard will be able to view the eclipse safely.
Flying at 530 miles per hour at an altitude of 37,000 feet, the aircraft will be above any weather that may encumber the viewers on the ground. Alaska Airlines has worked extensively to make sure the timing and flight plan is precise for optimal viewing. The passengers aboard the flight will be the last people on the earth to see this total eclipse.
On the ground, the total eclipse occurs over parts of Indonesia and Micronesia. Many umbraphiles have traveled to those regions in order to view the event. But, Mother Nature may block their plans to see the celestial show as those areas are in the middle of monsoon season, and weather forecasts are calling for heavy cloud cover throughout the day.
You can watch Flight 870 as it makes its way to Hawaii on Flightaware.[xyz-ihs snippet=”Adversal-468×60″]