On July 2, 2019, South America and the South Pacific Ocean will experience a total solar eclipse that will reach its maximum over the ocean before crossing into central Chile and disappearing over the suburbs of Buenos Aires. This eclipse runs through Chile’s Atacama Desert, which is known as one of the driest places on earth, a quality that leads to astoundingly clear skies, perfect for stargazing even in the region’s winter.
A sky full of stars over the European Southern Observatory in Chile. Image by Roger Ressmeyer/Corbis/VCG/Getty Images
A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon serendipitously passes between Earth and the sun, blocking all of the sunlight and casting a shadow onto the Earth. In the center of the moon’s shadow, day turns to night for over four-and-a-half minutes, with the periphery of the path appearing as a partial eclipse. A total solar eclipse is a relatively rare occurrence because the Moon doesn’t orbit in the same plane as the Earth and Sun. But when the three bodies line up just right, the Moon covers up the disc of the Sun, and those in the direct path of the Moon’s shadow will see the Sun go dark.
The path of totality will be visible from Pacific Ocean, east of New Zealand, and will cross the ocean north of the Pitcairn Islands, over the Tubai and Tuamotu islands, before making landfall over Chile and Argentina, and concluding south of Buenos Aires. The path of totality is 125 miles (200 kilometers) wide at its maximum, and the maximum duration is 4 minutes and 32 seconds.
The eclipse will begin over the Pacific Ocean at 17:03 UTC, which corresponds to 9:03 AM local time in Adamstown, Pitcairn. It will continue along its path until 21:44 UTC (19:44 local time in Buenos Aires), when the shadow of the moon leaves Libres de Sud, Argentina, just 20 miles west of the South Atlantic coast.
A total solar eclipse has an indescribable effect on observers. Most experienced astronomers would concede that a total solar eclipse is the most powerful, gorgeous, and even life-altering of all celestial phenomena.
Like the aurora borealis, a solar totality often invokes involuntary gasps and cries of wonder. You’ll often hear that some kind of “feeling” accompanies the visual spectacle. This may have something to do with the fact that both these events are accompanied by large changes in the amount of incoming electromagnetic radiation. During a solar totality, animals usually fall silent. People howl and weep. Flames of nuclear fire visibly erupt like geysers from the sun’s edge. Shimmering dark lines cover the ground.
Halo takes safety very seriously and we know that observing the sun can be very dangerous if you don't take the proper precautions. Please read our section on Eclipse Safety here to learn more about preparing for the upcoming eclipse.