SANTIAGO – The residents of Coyhaique, in Chilean Patagonia, were on Sunday the privileged witnesses to a solar eclipse, the area of totality of which passed directly over the town and neighboring Puerto Aysen.
Hundreds of people gathered on Coyhaique’s Pioneer Plaza to observe the unusual phenomenon outfitted with special glasses to protect their eyes from the Sun’s ultraviolet and infrared rays.
Telescopes were also set up to allow safe viewing of the Sun along with projection systems so that people could see the celestial event on screens, rather than by trying to look directly at it. Several astronomers were on hand to explain to the public the characteristics of the rare phenomenon.
The eclipse, which could also be observed in southern Argentina, was of the “annular” variety, meaning that the Moon passes directly between the Sun and the Earth but happens to be close enough to us in its orbit that it does not completely cover the Sun’s disk, thus leaving an intense “ring” of light around its spherical bulk at the time of maximum eclipse.
In Coyhaique, 1,708 kilometers (1,059 miles) south of Santiago, the astronomical phenomenon reached its maximum point at 10:30 am and could also be partially observed from several other cities in Chile.
In the national capital, the University of Santiago Planetarium held a special eclipse viewing, although clouds made it difficult for attendees to see much of the event.
In the coming years, Chile will be the site of two more solar eclipses. In July 2019, the Moon will obscure the Sun over the Elqui Valley in the northern part of the country and in December 2020 a similar event will be visible from the southern city of Villarrica.