8 April, 2024


A solar eclipse occurs when when the Moon passes in front of the sun and blocks it. It won't quite be a total eclipse on the island but 98.5% of the sun will be blocked out. ​The total eclipse will be visible across a huge stretch of the United States, but it all starts just north of Penrhyn.  That's where the Moon’s shadow first touches Earth so there's no doubt the world will hear about this stunningly beautiful and remote island


Penrhyn/Tongareva from the air A small part of Penrhyn/Tongareva

Penrhyn, also known as Tongareva, is just 9 degrees below the equator. And at 11.2 kms (7 miles) wide and 24.1 kms (15 miles) long, it's also the largest atoll in the Cook Islands and one of the largest in the Pacific. It's ​1,365 kms/848 mls North by North East of the capital island of Rarotonga and home to just 233 people who live in two settlements. Its stunning lagoon covers 233 sq. kms (90 square miles) or to put it another way...more than the land area of all 15 of the Cook Islands put together. But the land area around the lagoon totals a mere 9.8 sq.kms/3.8 sq. mls



05:46:56 Partial eclipse begins below the horizon Not directly visible
06:34:55* Sunrise Visible for the first time
06:39:11 Maximum eclipse Moon appears to cover most of the sun
07:36:05 Eclipse ends Moon leaves the sun's edge

Timings (for Omoka village) are derived from  Xavier Jubier's eclipses mapping page

 * The timer at the top of the page is counting down to this time

During an eclipse the intensely bright disk of the Sun is replaced by the dark silhouette of the Moon, and the much fainter corona of the sun is visible. During any one eclipse, totality is visible only in a narrow track on the surface of the Earth (never more than 167miles /268 kms in diameter). This photo montage from NASA shows what things look like as a total eclipse progresses

How a solar eclipse progresses

What you WON'T see on Penrhyn

Unlike a total eclipse, day won't appear to turn into night.  Instead, it will be like sunrise has been replaced with sunset. Also, this stunning phenonomenon known as Baily's Beads won't be visible because the sun won't be blocked out completely by the moon's shadow. 

It all depends on the weather
The liklihood of seeing the eclipse is very much dependent on the weather and in the past (since 2000), this day on Penrhyn was cloudy 60% of the time, according to

Meanwhile on Rarotonga and Aitutaki...
A partial eclipse will be visible on the capital island of Rarotonga where 38% of the sun will be blocked out at approximately 6.51 am. On Aitutaki, 47% of the sun will be obscured at 6.49 am (Cook Islands time in both cases).  However, the extent of the view could be affected by cloud cover. Based on past records, average cloud cover on Rarotonga is predicted to be 53% and on Aitutaki,  61% (both forecasts based on past records are from


This will be the third time in 59 years that islands in the Cooks group have been in the path of a solar eclipse, and on the two previous occassions they were total eclipses 

On 30 May, 1965, uninhabited MANUAE attracted what at the time was the largest gathering ever of solar astronomers to observe a total eclipse from a single site. New Zealand, Australia, the UK, USA, Germany, Japan and Russia all sent teams of scientists. It was considered to be the best place on earth to witness the phenomenon. The skies were clear at first, but just before totality (when the sun is totally obscured by the moon's shadow), a large cloud appeared


Manuae eclipse stamps

The Cook Islands Administration (the government of the time) issued stamps to commemorate the eclipse. And a post office was set up on Manuae so the scientists could, in those pre-internet days, tell the world about what they'd seen and speed their correspondence on its way with an appropriate reminder. Manaue is the only deserted island ever to have had its own stamps!

Six seconds after 8.21 am (1821 GMT) on Sunday 11 July, 2010 day turned to night on the ancient island of MANGAIA as the shadow of the moon obscured the sun. And for the following 3 minutes 18.8 seconds, the island, its 654 residents and around 400 visitors from all over the world had the experience of a lifetime 


These stunning photographs were taken on Mangaia. The first two are by Constantinos Emmanouilidis who was among the scientists who travelled to the island to study the event. The first picture is of totality showing blazing prominences emerging from the eclipsed sun. This is called "Baily's Beads". The second photo was taken by Neil Barabas and shows the sun just after totality. All are reproduced with permission and copyright remains that of the photographers



Missionary, Rev. William Wyatt Gill

English missionary, the Rev. William Wyatt Gill witnessed a near total eclipse across the Cook Islands on May 6 1883 and refers to "heathen days" centuries before when he says the event would have "occasioned great consternation".  In his 1885 book "Jottings from the Pacific" he writes about the ancient belief that Tangaroa, the Cook Islands divine god of the sea and fertility was responsible for eclipses...

"Liberal offerings of food would be carried to the maraes, while the priests chanted prayers to Tangaroa in order to get back the sun. It was supposed that the hungry Tangaroa had swallowed the lunimnary, but that on account of the large presents of food and many prayers, he vomited the bright morsel up again"

SAFETY FIRST: Eclipse watching advice from NASA

It is not safe to look directly at the Sun without specialised eye protection for solar viewing. You could be blinded. When watching a partial or annular solar eclipse directly with your eyes, you must look through safe solar viewing glasses (“eclipse glasses”) or a safe handheld solar viewer at all times. Eclipse glasses are NOT regular sunglasses; regular sunglasses, no matter how dark, are not safe for viewing. Viewing any part of the bright Sun through a camera lens, binoculars, or a telescope without a special-purpose solar filter secured over the front of the optics will instantly cause severe eye injury.