Watch the Stunning Video of the Total Eclipse that Plunged Argentina and Chile Into Darkness
Thousands of observers gathered in parts of Chile and Argentina on Monday to witness a rare and stunning total solar eclipse. The natural phenomenon is the second solar eclipse to be visible in Chile in the last 18 months.
Because of the perfect timing this time around, this year’s eclipse was especially breathtaking.
The sky got especially dark this year because this eclipse occurred both during the summer in the Southern Hemisphere and closer to the middle of the day. The sun was higher in the sky, making the change from lightness to darkness especially stark.
A solar eclipse happens when the earth, the moon and the sun are in total alignment. It’s a phenomenon that is actually rare in most solar systems. Our solar system is unique in that our moon is the perfect size to be able to block out the sun.
Thousands of people traveled hundreds of miles, some even camping out over night to get the chance to observe the rare phenomenon. The biggest crowds gathered in the Araucanía region 500 miles south of Santiago, Chile’s capital. The gatherers were wearing face masks and special protective glasses so they could watch the eclipse without damaging their eyes.
The solar eclipse had special significance for the Mapuche indigenous community in Chile.
“In Mapuche culture the eclipse has different meanings — they talk about ‘Lan Antu’, like the death of the sun and the conflict between the moon and the sun,” said Estela Nahuelpan, a leader in the indigenous Mateo Nahuelpan community, to the Agence France-Presse (AFP). “It refers to the necessary balance that has to exist in nature.”
In Mapuche legend, during a solar eclipse, the the sun temporarily dies when it battles against an unknown evil force known as “Wekufu”. Indigenous expert Juan Nanculef told the AFP that the Mapuche people used to light bonfires and throw stones and arrows into the sky to help the sun in its fight against Wekufu.
In days past, the Mapuche community would consider an eclipse like this a bad omen. There is still a bit of superstition that lingers around the phenomenon. A man named Diego Ancalao, who is a member of the Mapuche community, told CBS News that the last solar eclipse in 2019 was followed by civil unrest in Chile as well as a global pandemic.
Here’s to hoping that this eclipse is a sign of all of the good times ahead!
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