Eclipse visibility in Svalbard

By Michael Zeiler

click to see a higher resolution image of this map

On the 20th of March, a total solar eclipse crosses the North Atlantic Ocean and threads a passage between Iceland and the United Kingdom and Scandinavia. There are only two landfalls for the total solar eclipse; Svalbard and the Faroe Islands. Both locations present challenges; cloudy weather, cold temperatures, and low sun altitude during eclipse. 

This blog post highlights eclipse visibility maps in Svalbard. The next blog post will feature visibility maps for the Faroe Islands. See more maps of this eclipse at http://www.greatamericaneclipse.com/march-20-2015/

The maps below will be very useful to visitors to the Longyearbyen area so that they can avoid shadowed areas during the eclipse. This is a mountainous area and the sun will only be about 11 degrees high during the total solar eclipse. Most of the area inside Longyearbyen, the only sizable settlement in Svalbard, will not be able to see the total solar eclipse. It is critical for residents and eclipse chasers to be able to find locations from which to see totality.

The maps show simulated shadows during the three moments; when the moon first bites into the sun and begins the start of the eclipse (called 1st contact), the mid-point of the total solar eclipse, and when the moon leaves the sun and ends the start of eclipse (called 4th contact).

Furthermore, four maps are given for the total solar eclipse so that eclipse observers can decide on their threshold for how close the eclipsed sun appears to the intervening ridge line. If you were to stand exactly at the shadow boundary on the map showing actual shadows, you would only see half of the eclipse because actual shadows are computed from the center of the sun. The three other maps show simulated shadows that effectively show the areas to avoid if you want 1, 2, or 3 degrees of clearance between the sun and the ridge line below.

No one should choose to be at the boundary of the actual shadow because you only see half the corona. Casual eclipse observers could reasonably choose to be at the boundary of the shadows marked with 1 degree of vertical clearance, but this clearance is too close for most eclipse chasers. Eclipse landscape photographers might choose a 1 degree clearance for a dramatic effect. Most eclipse chasers will choose a location with a vertical clearance of at least two or three degrees. This clearance is desirable to see and photograph extended features of the sun's corona .

I have built these maps using Esri's ArcGIS software on a detailed digital elevation model (DEM) from the Norwegian Polar Institute. The elevation data points in the DEM have a very high resolution of 5 meters, so the derived shadows are accurate and trustworthy. Local authorities and media may freely share and link to these images provided a credit (in English or translation) is given to "Map by Michael Zeiler, www.greatamericaneclipse.com, using terrain data from the Norwegian Polar Institute".

I've spent many hours developing these maps for the benefit of eclipse chasers and eclipse tour operators. These maps are offered at no cost. If you would like to show your appreciation for my effort, consider a purchase from our web store, www.greatamericaneclipse.com/store/.

These six maps below show the extent of the region around Longyearbyen which is accessible by vehicle. You can click on each map and save to your computer for printing. Each map is 28 inches high and 24 inches wide, or about 71 cm by 61 cm. 

actual shadows during total solar eclipse

actual shadows during total solar eclipse

shadows at total solar eclipse, 1 degree of vertical clearance

shadows at total solar eclipse, 1 degree of vertical clearance

shadows at total solar eclipse, 2 degrees of vertical clearance

shadows at total solar eclipse, 2 degrees of vertical clearance

shadows at solar solar eclipse, 3 degrees of vertical clearance

shadows at solar solar eclipse, 3 degrees of vertical clearance

shadows during first contact of eclipse (when the partial phase of eclipse begins)

shadows during first contact of eclipse (when the partial phase of eclipse begins)

shadows during fourth contact of eclipse (when the partial phase of eclipse ends)

shadows during fourth contact of eclipse (when the partial phase of eclipse ends)

These six maps show the area in and around the settlement of  Longyearbyen. Note that there is only one spot within Longyearbyen which has a good clearance view of totality. You can click on each map and save it to your computer for printing. Each map is 28 inches high and 24 inches wide, or about 71 cm by 61 cm. 

Actual shadows during the total solar eclipse

Actual shadows during the total solar eclipse

Shadows at total solar eclipse, 1 degree of vertical clearance

Shadows at total solar eclipse, 1 degree of vertical clearance

Shadows at total solar eclipse, 2 degrees of vertical clearance

Shadows at total solar eclipse, 2 degrees of vertical clearance

shadows at total solar eclipse, 3 degrees of vertical clearance

shadows at total solar eclipse, 3 degrees of vertical clearance

shadows during the first contact of eclipse (when the partial phase of eclipse begins)

shadows during the first contact of eclipse (when the partial phase of eclipse begins)

shadows during the fourth contact of eclipse (when the partial phase of eclipse ends)

shadows during the fourth contact of eclipse (when the partial phase of eclipse ends)