SEATTLE -- A total eclipse of the sun turned day into night over portions of Southeast Asia and the Pacific Ocean Tuesday and Wednesday, depending on what side of the International Date Line you’re on.
Beginning at 5:23 p.m. PST, the moon passed across the sun, causing the daytime sky to darken. The moment when the sun was entirely obscured by the moon begin at 5:38 p.m. and lasted just six minutes until 5:44 p.m.
Alaska Airlines Flight 870 from Anchorage to Honolulu Tuesday took off nearly a half-hour later than scheduled so passengers get a chance to see the eclipse from 36,000 feet.
“The flight plan will not require any modification, only the departure time will need to be moved forward by about 23 minutes, to offer a view of totality for 1 minute and 59 seconds on the right side of the aircraft with the black Sun at 10 degrees elevation,” wrote astronomer Xavier Jubier.
Ahh, there's the kicker. Only those passengers in seats D, E, and F got the full benefit. But all the passengers will get specially filtered sunglasses, courtesy of Dan McClaun in seat 8F.
“You can’t be doing something that’s this exciting and not give everybody onboard the chance to at least participate,” said McGlaun on the Alaska Airlines blog.
Jubier provided this animation showing how the eclipse crossed Flight 870’s path.
“The key to success here is meeting some very tight time constraints – specific latitudes and longitudes over the ocean,” Captain Hal Andersen said on the Alaska Airlines blog. “With the flight management computer, it’s a pretty easy challenge, but it’s something we need to pay very close attention to. We don’t want to be too far ahead or too far behind schedule.”
What about flights between Seattle and Hawaii? Jubier said some flights could have intercepted the eclipse, but would have had to change their schedule and adjust their flight paths to the west. That would have lengthened the flights by up to 15 minutes and, thereby, increase the cost of operating the flight.
Garuda Indonesia Flight 649 from Ternate City to Jakarta got about two and a half minutes of eclipse time, Jubier writes.
In Honolulu, 63 percent of the sun was covered, according to Sky and Telescope.
Folks in the U.S. will have to wait until Aug. 21, 2017, to see the next total solar eclipse. That one will be seen in the Southeast, the Central Plains and the Northwest.
USA TODAY's Doyle Rice contributed to this report.