The 2006 Eclipse:
Paths and Details

All diagrams © Fred Espenak and Xavier Jubier

World Path

2006 Eclipse: World


The Total Solar Eclipse of 29 March 2006.

The narrow blue region is the Path of Totality (also known as the Umbra).

The Moon's umbra (shadow) travels from west to east (left to right on the map). At the point of Greatest Eclipse, totality is at local midday. The duration of totality at greatest eclipse is 4 minutes 6 seconds. This occurs in southern Libya. On either side of that point, the duration of totality is less. To the West of greatest eclipse the eclipse was total before local noon; East of it, totality was seen after local noon. The umbra is widest around the time of greatest eclipse as the Earth is bulging out towards the Moon in that region. This brings the Earth's surface closer to the Moon.

The area on either side of the path of totality (in pale blue) is called the Penumbra and provided a partial eclipse, the magnitude decreasing with distance from the path of totality. The UK experienced a partial eclipse of approximeately 20%. Beyond the partial region no eclipse is visible.

The Sub-solar Point is the location where the Sun is overhead at the time of greatest eclipse; in March this point is very close to and a little North of the equator. The parts in red on either end of the umbra are the regions where the eclipse occurs during sunrise (left) or sunset (right).

The path of totality begins in Brazil (at sunrise) and crosses the Atlantic Ocean (moving eastwards), reaching western Africa. Turning north-eastwards, the path crosses Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Niger, northern Chad and Libya, where the greatest eclipse occurs.

The path then crossing the Mediterranean Sea and enters Turkey before crossing the Black Sea, Georgia, Russia, Kazakhstan and Russia again. The path finally leaves the Earth close to Mongolia (at sunset).

The umbra takes 3 hours 9 minutes to traverse its entire path.

Path Across The Mediterranean Sea

2006 Eclipse: Mediterranean Sea

The path of totality is the pair of dark blue lines moving across the Mediterranean Sea from lower left to upper right.

In this part of the path the eclipse occurs after local noon. The path travels across Niger, Libya, northern western Egypt crossing the Mediterranean Sea, passing over Turkey into the Black Sea. It takes about 70 minutes for the umbra to cross this region.

The blue circular regions are the positions of the umbra at ten minute intervals (all in Universal Time which is essentially GMT). For each position, the accompanying boxes contain the time of mid-eclipse, the duration of totality, and the altitude of the Sun. The umbra is slightly elliptical as the meeting between the Earth and the umbra is not exactly perpendicular.

The umbra takes about 12 minutes to cross Turkey.

Path Across Southern Turkey

2006 Eclipse: Southern Turkey

The two outer black lines are the path of totality and the middle line is the Centre Line. The maximum duration of totality is found along the centre line. The other lines represent totality lasting for 1, 2 and 3 minutes.

The duration of totality at our base in Antalya (the largest coastal city in the area) was 3 minutes 11 seconds. The duration of totality where the centre line meets the coast of southern Turkey was 3 minutes 45 seconds. Our eclipse site was close to this point. Several ancient city sites are found along this coastal region, including Side, a few kilometers from the centre line.

Path Near Side

2006 Eclipse Side

Our eclipse site was at the ancient city of Side close to the sea and a few kilometres from the Centre Line (blue).

Path At Side

2006 Eclipse Side

Our eclipse site was at Side close to the Temple of Apollo.

The Sky During Totality

2006 Eclipse: The Sky During Totality

This was the sky during totality close to our observation location.

The Sun was among the faint stars of Pisces. Venus was very brilliant and easily visible. Mercury and Mars were fainter.

Eclipse Details

Date 29 March 2006
Location Side - South coast of Turkey
Latitude 36° 45' 52" N
Longitude 31° 23' 15" E
Altitude 5 m
Distance from Centre Line less than 5 km
1st Contact (UT + 3) 12:38
2nd Contact 13:55:00
3rd Contact 13:58:45
4th Contact 15:14
Duration of Totality 3m 45s
Path Width 170 km
Major Axis 202 km
Minor Axis 163 km
Direction of Shadow Approach approx. 230°
Umbral Velocity 0.898 km/s
Solar Altitude 54°
Solar Azimuth 205°
Position Angle: 2nd Contact 51°
Position Angle: 3rd Contact 224°
Gamma 0.3843
Diameter Ratio 1.0493
Obscuration 1.1010
Saros Details 139 (29 / 71)

The Location, Latitude, Longitude and Altitude (in metres) are for the observation site in front of the Temple of Apollo at Side. The figures was measured on a Garmin GPS 12 Personal Navigator.

The Distance from Centre Line was provided by Fred Espenak and confirmed from a map.

First Contact is the beginning of the eclipse when the first "bite" appears on the Sun's disk; it is the beginning of the partial phase. Second Contact is the beginning of totality. Third Contact is the end of totality. Fourth Contact is the end of the partial eclipse. The times are in local time which, for this eclipse, is UT + 3 (GMT plus two hours plus an extra hour for summer time).

The Duration of the eclipse at the observation site was 3 minute 45 seconds.

The Path Width is the width of the path of totality. The umbra itself is elliptical in shape. The Major Axis is the longest axis of the umbra; the Minor Axis is the shorter axis. The umbra at the observation site was 202km long and 163km wide and produced a path width of 170km. The path width was wide enough to make the eclipse reasonably dark.

The Direction of the Shadow indicates that the umbra approached the observation site from the South West. The Umbral Velocity is the speed of the Moon's shadow (898 metres per second) at the observation site. This and the umbral width determine the duration of the total eclipse.

The Sun's Altitude is measured from the horizon; the Azimuth is the direction of the Sun measured clockwise from North. The figures are for mid-eclipse.

The Position Angles indicate the exact position of the Sun's disk where the Moon covers and uncovers the Sun at the beginning and end of totality.

Gamma determines how the Moon's shadow, if extended, would pass through the Earth. A Gamma of zero implies that the shadow would pass through the exact centre of the Earth. A Gamma of greater than 1 misses the Earth and no total eclipse would occur. A positive Gamma passes North of the Earth's centre; a negative Gamma passes South of the Earth's centre. The value of Gamma for this eclipse is 0.3843. This means that the shadow passes North of the Earth's centre, about a 40% of the way to the edge of the Earth. This, combined with the fact that in late March, the Northern Hemisphere is tilted very slightly towards the Sun, produces an eclipse mainly in the Northern Temperate Zone.

The Diameter Ratio determines how much bigger the Moon's apparent radius is than the Sun's. In this case, the Moon's radius is 1.0493 that of the Sun's. A total eclipse can only occur if this figure is greater than 1. The Moon would then appear larger than the Sun and could cover it completely. If this figure was less than one a total eclipse could not occur because the Moon would appear smaller than the Sun.

The Obscuration determines how much larger the Moon's apparent area is than the Sun's.

The Saros is a collection of eclipses belonging to a series. Each member of the series is followed by a similar eclipse approximately 18 years, 11 days and 8 hours later.

This eclipse is a member of Saros number 139. It is the 29th eclipse out of a total of 71 in the series. The 71 eclipses consist of 16 partial, 43 total and 12 rare hybrid eclipses.

The series began on 17 May 1501 with a small partial eclipse in the Arctic regions. After six more partial eclipses of increasing magnitude, a series of 12 hybrid eclipses occurred in the northern hemisphere, the first one being less than a second long on 11 August 1627. The eclipses became total on 21 December 1843, the 20th eclipse of the series. The duration was 1m 43s.

Kryss saw the 28th eclipse of this series in the Philippines on 18 March 1988.

The 39th eclipse of the series will occur on 16 July 2186 and will have the very long duration of 7 minutes 29 seconds, just two seconds short of the theoretical maximum. The final total eclipse of Saros 139 will occur on 26 March 2601 (the 62nd eclipse with a duratiuon of 0m 35s). The series will end with nine partial eclipses, the final one being on 3 July 2763 in the Antarctic.

The entire series will last for 1262 years.

At any one time dozens of Saros series are in progress. Other eclipses will belong to different series.

KryssTal Related Pages

The 2006 eclipse main page.

Maps of the path of the 2006 eclipse from Fred Espenak and eclipse details at the observation site.

Venus and Mercury were both photographed during the eclipse.

Accounts, comments and photos from or about the 2006 eclipse sent to this web site are reproduced here.

People from the 2006 eclipse.

Turkish newspapers from the 2006 eclipse.

The excitement during totality is such that not all photos come out as expected.

Travel photos from Turkey.