Eclipse 2019

How to see the 2019 eclipse from a British Overseas Territory

The tiny, tropical, British atoll in the South Seas is a holiday island for Pitcairners

The mainland United Kingdom won’t see another Total Solar Eclipse until 2090, but part of its territory in the South Pacific will soon fall under the Moon’s shadow.

If you plan to take a cruise around French Polynesia to view the 2019 total solar eclipse, it’s most likely that you will witness Totality while on board ship.

However, there is one place where Moon shadow makes land in the South Pacific Ocean, and that’s the tiny tropical atoll of Oeno Island, at 23° 55′ 24.3″ S, 130° 44′ 24.1″ W.

When is Totality at Oeno Island?

July 2, 2019 at 10:23am (2 minutes 51 seconds)

Technically a British Overseas Territory, Oeno Island is a truly remote place.

Officially part of the ‘Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Island’ group of volcano islands, it’s 89 miles northwest of Pitcairn Island. That’s somewhere that cruise ships in the area are bound to make a beeline for in the days before the eclipse.

Indeed, Oeno Island is probably most famous for being a vacation spot in two weeks each January for some Pitcairners – all 57 of them – when, you know, they get claustrophobic on their busy island.

Consequently it’s also known as Holiday Island. Flat, covered in shrubs and coconut palms, the island contains a small lagoon, and a usually uninhabited village that serves as the holiday area. Over the shallows of the north coast of Oeno is Sandy Island, an even smaller sliver of land.

In practice, Oeno Island can only be visited with the prior permission of the Commissioner for Pitcairn Islands in New Zealand; super-yachts are the most likely visitors at any time, and that’s also likely to apply for this remote outpost during the eclipse.

According to Wikipedia, Oeno Atoll measures about 5 kilometres (3.1miles) in diameter, including the central lagoon, with a total area exceeding 20 square kilometres (7.7 sq miles). There are two larger and three smaller islets on or within the rim of the atoll. Their aggregate land area is only 0.69 square kilometres (170 acres). The main island (Oeno), about 0.5 square kilometres (120 acres) in area, has forest and scrub with pandanus and palm trees. It is located in the southwest part of the atoll’s lagoon.

Oeno has been identified by BirdLife International as an Important Bird Area (IBA) principally for its colony of Murphy’s petrels, which, at some 12,500 pairs, is estimated to be the second largest colony of these birds in the world.

Photo credit: NASA Earth Observatory