Eclipses are events that have long fascinated humanity, thousands of us gathering to view these celestial events occurring in the skies above. Whilst partial eclipses can happen up to 5 or 6 times a year, a total solar eclipse is much rarer event, only occurring once every 1-2 years, and has a far more sensational effect. Luckily, there is one occurring in the wilds of Chile in 2019, an incredible edition to your holiday in South America!
Intrigued? So are we! Join us in discovering more…
What’s a total solar eclipse all about?
A total solar eclipse can only occur during a new moon, when the moon’s orbit puts it inbetween the sun and the earth. The moon will gradually creep its way across the sun, gradually covering it until it is fully obscured, at which point a ‘solar corona’ occurs, an ethereal halo of white light around the dark disc of the moon. Just before totality and just after you get another cool effect called ‘Baily’s Beads’ named after British astronomer Francis Baily. These bright balls of light, sometimes called the ‘diamond ring effect’, occur because the edges of the moon are not smooth but jagged with highlands and mountains.
When’s the next one and what will happen?
On July 2, 2019 the moon will pass inbetween the earth and sun, casting its shadow over the earth and day into twilight. Total solar eclipses are only fully visible over a narrow area – usually around 125 miles wide – whilst at the same time a partial solar eclipse is visible in a wider area surrounding it. In July, the shadow the moon will cast will leave swathes of the Pacific Ocean, the Pitcairn Islands, French Polynesia, areas of northern Chile and northern Argentina in darkness for up to 4 minutes and 33 seconds.
Where can I see it?
One of the best places to see the July 2 eclipse is from the Elqui Valley in Chile. A renowned spot for stargazing thanks to the fact that it gets, on average, 360 clear nights a year, it is home to some of the world’s strongest telescopes. Easily accessible through the city of La Serena, it also happens to be a beautiful, dramatic spot and, happily, the home of Chile’s national tipple, pisco. The eclipse will occur just before sunset at approximately 4.38pm, early as it is the middle of Chile’s winter, and will last for 2 minutes and 18 seconds. Of course, watching a solar eclipse must be done safely and comfortably, with special eclipse glasses and plenty of local wine!
How do I get there?
Here at Wendy Wu Tours, we have amazing itineraries that include a trip to the Elqui Valley to witness the eclipse in the company of astronomy expert Stuart Clark. Choose from the 7-day Chile Eclipse itinerary, which gives you the option to bolt on extensions to places across South America, the 12-day Chile Eclipse & Atacama itinerary, which explores the wonders of the Atacama Desert or the 17-day Total Eclipse South America, an epic journey through the wonders of the continent.