News ID: 255208
Published: 1123 GMT July 03, 2019

Thousands marvel as total eclipse darkens Chile, Argentina

Thousands marvel as total eclipse darkens Chile, Argentina
NICO AGUILERA/EPA

The Moon blocks the Sun during a total solar eclipse in Merlo, San Luis, Argentina, on July 2, 2019.

Tens of thousands of tourists and locals gaped skyward on Tuesday as a total eclipse of the Sun darkened the heavens over Chile and Argentina.

Tourists from around the world gathered to witness the cosmic spectacle, which began in the morning as the Moon crossed in front of the Sun and cast a shadow that passed over a tiny uninhabited atoll in the South Pacific and headed to South America, The Associated Press reported.

Chile and Argentina were the only inhabited places where the total eclipse could be seen.

The eclipse made its first landfall in Chile at 3:22 p.m. (1922 GMT) in La Serena, a city of some 200,000 people where the arrival of more than 300,000 visitors forced the local water company to increase output and service gas stations to store extra fuel. Police and health services were also reinforced.

“Oh! Oh! Oh!” thousands of spectators shouted as they jumped and danced without taking their eyes off the sky. After a brief moment of silence, the yelling returned as the Sun’s rays began reaching Earth again.

Others shouted “Long live, Chile!” — A chant used at sporting events. In northern Chile, meteorologists measured a three-degree Centigrade drop in temperature and in the center a two-degree drop.

“Today Chile is the world capital of astronomy,” said Chilean President Sebastián Piñera, alluding to the dozens of giant observatories in the country, which amount to about half the world’s telescopic capacity. “We are the eyes and senses of humanity to be able to look, observe and study the stars and the universe.”

In the Argentine town of Chascomús, dozens braved near-freezing temperatures and strong winds and claimed a spot at a pier in a lagoon, hoping to catch a glimpse of the eclipse.

“This is something that they say won’t repeat itself for like 300 years, so we wanted to bring our son,” said Maximiliano Giannobile, who arrived at the pier with 18-month-old Vitto wrapped in a puffy jacket and several layers of clothes.

Northern Chile is known for clear skies and some of the largest, most powerful telescopes on Earth are being built in the area.

“In the past 50 years we’ve only had two eclipses going over observatories. So when it happens and an observatory lies in the path of a totality, it really is special for us,” said Elyar Sedaghati, an astronomer working as a fellow at the European Southern Observatory in Paranal, Chile.

“We can finally use our toys during the day because it’s always at night that we use them.”

The town of La Higuera was also plunged into total darkness.

“We hope this milestone will transform (our town) into a tourist attraction, so that visitors ... can come to La Higuera and take a picture where there once was a total Sun eclipse,” Mayor Yerko Galleguillos said.

Town officials distributed more than 2,000 cardboard-frame protective eyeglasses at local schools and community centers while workers built statues of huge sunglasses and a darkened Sun on a local square.

A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun and scores a bull’s-eye by completely blocking out the Sunlight.

The San Juan provincial government in Argentina installed telescopes and public viewing areas. Astronomers in Buenos Aires Province offered yoga and meditation classes during the eclipse, which were also partially visible in other South American countries.

The Earth’s next total solar eclipse will be December 14, 2020, and it also will cross Chile and Argentina, though on a different path.

In 2017, millions of people in the United States witnessed the phenomena, with a full solar eclipse visible in parts of 14 states and a partial eclipse seen in nearly the entire country. It was the first such widespread eclipse in the US since 1918.

 

 

 

 

 

   
KeyWords
 
Comments
Comment
Name:
Email:
Comment:
Security Key:
Captcha refresh
Page Generated in 0/8648 sec