Total solar eclipse 2023 path of totality

Click Here for COVID-19 Travel Updates from TravelQuest

Total solar eclipse 2023 path of totality

Some who seek totality often use total eclipses of the Sun as an excuse to travel to places they might not otherwise visit. Others consider a total solar eclipse an added bonus for a trip to a locale that’s long been on a wish list. Thanks to its location, the April 20, 2023, total eclipse offers a little something for everyone.

In 2012, totality passed over the Cape York peninsula in northeastern Australia and plunged Cairns into darkness for two minutes. The 2023 total solar eclipse barely touches the opposite coast, briefly crossing a peninsula in Western Australia. For those who’ve been thinking about a trip to the Land Down Under, perhaps to the infrequently visited western region of the country, this is a golden opportunity to combine Australia and totality.

The 2023 eclipse also sweeps over regions that are not as popular with travelers as Australia, because they are more difficult to reach. The Timor Sea, plus Timor-Leste, West Papua, and the other smaller islands touched by totality offer much to those interested in the natural environment of tropical regions. But while land expeditions to these areas beyond Australia are possible, this region is best suited to an eclipse cruise if viewing totality is the prime reason for the journey.

Path of the 2023 Total Solar Eclipse

The eclipse begins at sunrise on April 20, 2023, in the southern Indian Ocean about half way between Madagascar and Antarctica. After traveling over water for nearly an hour, the path of totality touches the Australian continent. For almost one minute, the Sun is completely hidden for eclipse chasers on Western Australia’s North West Cape. Weather prospects here are very good; sunshine dominates the April skies over the region.

The eclipse then crosses the Timor Sea northwest of Australia. Totality touches land on only a few islands, including the eastern tip of Timor-Leste. Maximum duration of totality—1 minute 16 seconds—occurs just off the island’s east coast. Totality then passes over six small islands before reaching West Papua. On all of these islands, land-based weather prospects are poor, with the monthly cloud cover average ranging from 60% to 80%. Beyond Australia, the flexibility of a cruise ship is likely the only way to see totality, and it’s certainly the best way to explore the region. After leaving Papua, the path of totality continues into the Pacific Ocean, ending at sunset far from any islands.

This total solar eclipse is slightly unusual, as it’s not total everywhere along its path. For the first 5 minutes after sunrise, and the last 5 minutes prior to sunset, the eclipse is annular—the Moon is centered on the Sun, but it doesn’t completely cover the solar disk. This combination of an annular/total eclipse is often called a hybrid eclipse; visit our “Types of Solar Eclipses”  blog to learn more about it. In reality, even the most die-hard eclipse chasers won’t bother trying to reach the two most interesting viewing positions for this eclipse—the point where annularity changes to totality, or where totality reverts to annularity. Both spots are in remote, mid-ocean locations at the extreme ends of the 2023 eclipse path. As a result, almost everyone will refer to the April 2023 eclipse as a total solar eclipse.

You’ll find a wide-view map of the 2023 path of totality at the end of this blog. To explore the path in more detail, eclipse chaser Xavier Jubier has an excellent website. His interactive solar eclipse maps show the paths across Earth’s surface for numerous past and future totalities.

Total solar eclipse 2023 path of totality

This composite image shows the progression of the total solar eclipse over Madras, Oregon, on August 21, 2017. (Photo by Aubrey Gemignani/NASA)

Total solar eclipse 2023 path of totality

Some people view a total solar eclipse with just their eyes. Others bring a lot of gear, hoping to capture every nuance of totality. (Photo by Paul Deans/TQ)

Preparing for the 2023 Solar Eclipse

For North American or European eclipse chasers, or anyone interested in visiting the region and adding a total solar eclipse to their itinerary, it’s a long way to go. Advance planning is an absolute necessity—total eclipse 2023 is not an eclipse you can decide to see at the last minute.

Western Australia’s North West Cape isn’t the only land portion of the eclipse path, but it is the one with the best chance of seeing totality. Exmouth, a small resort town with a population of some 2,700 residents, is the sole community on the Cape. According to Jay Anderson, TravelQuest’s eclipse meteorologist: “The overriding character of the Exmouth area is its sunshine…it is uncommon to see the whole of the Cape covered in extensive, opaque clouds at this time of year.”

While eclipse-day weather prospects on the Cape are excellent, accessibility and accommodation are not. The state of Western Australia is a vast, empty region, with long distances between far-flung towns. Exmouth is remote, its limited tourism infrastructure is fairly basic, and many of the hotel rooms have already been booked by tour operators. There are no nearby towns from which to dash to totality on eclipse-day morning. The eclipse begins at 10:00 am local time, and driving at night prior to the eclipse is strongly discouraged due to the presence of kangaroos and other wildlife that emerge at night. You do not want to hit a 100-pound (160-kg) roo with your rental car.

Of the other land-based options, the north shore of the eastern tip of Timor-Leste holds the most promise for seeing the eclipse, but the odds are poor. The average cloud cover for April is nearly 60%. Still, that’s better than West Papua, where cloud averages are in the range of 75%. Jay Anderson notes that solar eclipse travel to Papua will require serious planning. “Population is sparse and villages are widely separated. Access for much of the eclipse track may have to be by boat. Eclipse observations would be a challenge, but what an adventure!”

Most of the path of the total solar eclipse of 2023 crosses water, which makes joining a cruise a good option. Some eclipse cruises will depart from Darwin in Australia’s Northern Territory, while others will leave from Bali, Indonesia. In the southern portion of the Timor Sea, the weather prospects are almost as good as those at Exmouth, making a ship-based eclipse trip an attractive option.

Total solar eclipse 2023 path of totality

Thousands of limestone spires rise from the stark yellow landscape of the Pinnacles Desert near the western coastal town of Cervantes, Australia. (Photo by Tobias Keller)

Total solar eclipse 2023 path of totality

The Ningaloo Reef, in Western Australia’s remote North West Cape, is home to the world’s largest and longest “fringing” reef—a coral reef that lies close to shore. (Photo by Ben Carless)

TravelQuest in Australia for Totality 2023

Reaching the path of totality for eclipse 2023 will be a challenge, particularly for solo travelers or small groups of eclipse chasers. Access to, and accommodation, in Exmouth is limited. Getting to the islands that will experience a total solar eclipse is difficult. In reality, this is one instance where joining a solar eclipse tour is definitely the way to go.

Since organizing our first eclipse trip in 1996, TravelQuest has planned and fulfilled almost 250 solar eclipse tours and astronomy-themed excursions to all seven continents. We’ve successfully viewed totality from land, sea, and air. For the April 20, 2023, total solar eclipse, we’re currently in the planning stages for three possible tours to totality—two by land and one by sea. Our probable land options are centered on Western Australia’s North West Cape, while the cruise we’re considering will depart from Bali. To learn more about the status of any of our three potential total solar eclipse 2023 tours, please contact TravelQuest.

Total solar eclipse 2023 path of totality

This topographic map reveals that most of the eclipse track passes over water and barely touches the Australian coast, Timor-Leste, and a few Indonesian islands. (Map by Jay Anderson)

Header image by Tobias Keller

Blog Archive

Post navigation

Total solar eclipse 2023 path of totality

Where is the best place to see the 2023 eclipse?

Annular solar eclipse of October 14, 2023.
Oregon Dunes, Oregon. ... .
Crater Lake National Park, Oregon. ... .
Mt Bachelor, Oregon. ... .
Great Basin National Park. ... .
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah. ... .
Capitol Reef National Park, Utah. ... .
Canyon of the Ancients National Monument, Colorado. ... .
Lake Powell, Arizona..

What will be the path of the 2024 total solar eclipse?

On April 8, 2024, a total solar eclipse will cross North America, passing over Mexico, the United States, and Canada. A total solar eclipse happens when the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth, completely blocking the face of the Sun.

What would happen if you were standing in the path of totality?

If you are in the path of totality the eclipse begins with a partial phase in which the moon gradually covers more and more of the sun. This typically lasts for about an hour until the moon completely covers the sun and the total eclipse begins.

What will happen to the Sun in 2023?

One of the rarest Solar eclipses, a hybrid solar eclipse will occur on Thursday, April 20, 2023. A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between Earth and the Sun thereby totally or partly obscuring the image of the Sun for a viewer on Earth.