Things That Matter

Your Abuela Always Warned You About Eclipses But The One Yesterday In South America Was Truly Special

Yesterday, thousands of people in Chile and Argentina stood outside and gazed at the sky as day turned briefly to night during this year’s only total solar eclipse.

For two minutes, Earth’s moon completely blocked the sun, allowing observers in the path of its shadow to see solar prominences and the sun’s vast corona extending out into space.

Viewers across Chile and Argentina were treated to a particularly special solar eclipse yesterday.

Credit: @CNN / Twitter

Hundreds of thousands of tourists scattered across the north Chilean desert on Tuesday to experience a rare and irresistible combination for astronomy buffs: a total eclipse of the sun viewed from beneath the world’s clearest skies.

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun, plunging the planet into darkness. It happens only rarely in any given spot across the globe.

The best views this time were from Chile’s sprawling Atacama desert north of the coastal city of La Serena, where a lack of humidity and city lights combine to create the world’s clearest skies.

The region had not seen an eclipse since 1592, according to the Chilean Astronomy Society. The next one is expected in 2165.

OMG, this is so cool!

Office workers poured from buildings late in the afternoon to catch a glimpse of the phenomenon and a run on special “eclipse-viewing” glasses downtown had led to a shortage in many stores, with street vendors charging as much as $10 for a pair of the disposable, cardboard-framed lenses.Advertisement

Northern Chile is known for clear skies and some of the largest, most powerful telescopes on Earth are being built in the area, turning the South American country into a global astronomy hub.

And you don’t get a chance to see this too often…

Credit: @NWSNorman / Twitter

Weather satellites captured a once in a lifetime shot showing the solar eclipse crossing the South Pacific Ocean together with Hurricane Barbara off the coast of Mexico. Que chido!

And, of course, the solar eclipse that’s taking place over Latin America is special!

Credit: @WIRED / Twitter

So solar eclipses aren’t super rare. In fact, they occur roughly every 18 months. Some of them last just a few seconds; others stretch up to seven minutes.

But today’s eclipse in South America is special for several reasons.

First, it takes place during a low-activity period in the solar cycle, called the minimum, meaning the views for certain researchers will be a little clearer and more nuanced given the lack of “clutter,” or activity such as flares and prominences emanating from the surface.

Also, it will pass directly over an area that is home to major astronomical research observatories, including the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory, Gemini South, and the European Southern Observatory’s La Silla Observatory.

It’s also taking place across the Atacama Desert – a special place for viewing celestial objects.

Images have been pouring in on social media from across South America.

Credit: @AP_Images / Twitter

Like this amazing shot taken in Argentina.

And this one from the Andes Mountains in Chile.

Credit: @joabaldwin / Twitter

I mean, that’s an other worldly image right there.

And remember, whatever you do, don’t take this Twitter user’s advice.

Credit: @nostalgiabloom / Twitter

Or, you know, don’t follow our president’s lead either. Remember the eclipse of 2017 when he stared directly into the sunlight…? Yea, impossible to forget.

Are you already waiting for the next chance to see a solar eclipse?

Credit: @Forbes / Twitter

Well, depending on where you’re at you may be waiting awhile. Although, South America will have another chance next year as an eclipse will take a similar path in 2020.

For viewers in the US, we’ll have to wait until 2024 for our best shot when an eclipse will be visible from Mexico, across Texas, and up to Chicago, New York, and Maine.

READ: This Is What A Latino Household Is Like On The Day Of A Solar Eclipse

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