On Tuesday, July 2, a lot of ocean and a few tiny patches of land lie under a moon-blackened sun. A total eclipse will take place on this day … the first total solar eclipse since the great US total solar eclipse of 21 August 2017.
On this day the long, thin finger of the moon's dark umbrella shadow returns to its peak – an average of 150 Kilometers wide – pull over the earth's surface. In contrast to the total solar eclipse in 2017, which offered a variety of land observation opportunities, the 11,000 km long eclipse path in 2019 will be almost exclusively restricted to the South Pacific.
Related: Total Solar Eclipse 2019: A Complete Guide
The History of the Shadow
The entire solar eclipse trail begins at local sunrise, 2,175 miles (4,000 kilometers) east-northeast of Wellington, New Zealand. The dark shadow of the moon lands for the first time on the island of Oeno, a remote coral atoll and part of the Pitcairn Islands. Oeno Island serves as a private vacation spot for the few residents of Pitcairn Island, who travel to the southern hemisphere during the summer and stay there for two weeks in January.
The total area of the island of Oeno is only 120 acres. The island is mainly known for its colony of Murphy's petrels. With approximately 12,500 pairs, the location is estimated to be the second largest colony of these birds in the world. The birds – and probably some winter-hardy eclipse hunters – experience a total solar eclipse of 2 minutes and 53 seconds at 18:24 GMT.
The moment of the greatest solar eclipse occurs only 1 hour later, when the duration lies on the center line of the eclipse path. It lasts the longest: 4 minutes and 32.8 seconds, at a point about 2,600 km southwest of Isla Isabela on the Galapagos -Islands, but still over open sea water.
The shadow misses at this time, the mystical Easter Island, which passes about 1,080 km north. However, a special expedition in the air will attempt to "chase" the shadow with a 787 Dreamliner aircraft, hoping to extend the total length to 9 minutes.
Unfortunately, there will be no other landing on the entire 9,500 km (5,900 miles) Pacific route. Of the 161 minutes in which the Umbra of the Shadow will be in contact with Earth, it lands in Central Chile for the second time in the last 4 minutes at 16:39. Local time (2039 GMT) before moving quickly from east to southeast through central Argentina. The trail ends just before the Río de la Plata and the nation of Uruguay. At sunset, he will take off from Earth and return to outer space.
World-class Observatories on the Way
The path of the shadow passes over a The southeastern course, in The Elqui Valley is 140 km long and stretches from the Pacific Ocean to the east to the foothills of the Andes. The valley usually has exceptionally dry and clear weather, which is the main reason, notes astronomer and highly respected Eclipse expert Fred Espenak, "that a number of important international astronomical observatories have been built there, so it is no surprise that the Elqui Valley is home to the is the focus of many Eclipse expeditions in 2019. "
In fact, it is a very coincidental circumstance that the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory, a world-class facility for astronomical telescopes and instruments, 50 miles (80 km) east from La Serena, Chile, at an altitude of 7,200 feet (2,200 meters), is within the total distance and witnesses a total eclipse of 2 minutes and 6 seconds.
Several solar eclipse observatories have now announced live webcasts. Here's how to watch them live online.
After the eclipse has crossed Chile, the speed of the umbrella shadow rises rapidly as it slides off the surface of the earth. In fact, the shadow covers the 1,300 km stretch over Argentina in just 3 minutes. That corresponds to an average speed of 26,000 km / h!
So much …
Some notable metropolitan areas where a very large partial solar eclipse can be seen near the sunset include Montevideo (89%). and Santiago (93%).
By far the most enticing prospect is Buenos Aires, the capital and largest city in Argentina. The 15.5 million people who live in the metropolis of this city can watch the moon begin to cover the sun at 16:36. Local time, just over an hour later at 5:44 pm, covers 99.5% of the sun, just before the sun disappears below the horizon. The best vantage points in the city will be visible from the rooftops of tall buildings and towers, offering unobstructed views to the west-northwest.
But for the great view of a total eclipse, head for the Totality Trail, traveling southwest for about 30 km. There are many roads that lead out of town to the entirety. I suspect that this afternoon there will be a mass exodus from "The Paris of the South" where people hope to catch a glimpse of the dark sun.
Unfortunately, the prospects are not good. Meteorologist Jay Anderson writes in the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada's "Observer's Handbook 2019:" The eclipse route ends in the southern suburbs of Buenos Aires, but the location is not tempting due to the low sun altitude and average cloud cover in the region of around 65%. "
Cover for other places
A partial eclipse will also be visible from Panama, Costa Rica, and part of the southwestern part of Nicaragua, as well as much of South America. except for the northern and eastern sections.
In the following table I have indicated the local conditions for 13 cities in Central and South America as well as for large population centers on two islands: the Falkland Islands (F.I.) and Easter Island (E.I.). The times for the listed places are in local civil time. If the sun went down before the end of the eclipse, three dashes (- – -) are displayed. The percentage of the sun's diameter obscured by the moon is given. For a maximum eclipse, an asterisk (*) indicates that this is also a sunset. A double asterisk (**) indicates how much of the sun's diameter is hidden during setup.
Finally, the North Americans must be on a pair of annular until June 10, 2021 and October 14, 2023 ("Ring of Fire") Eclipses wait. and April 8, 2024 for the next Great American Total Eclipse.
Joe Rao serves as a lecturer and guest lecturer at the New York Hayden Planetarium . He writes about astronomy for Natural History Magazine the Farmers & # 39; Almanac and other publications and is a meteorologist in front of the camera for Verizon's FiOS1 News in New York's Lower Hudson Valley. Follow us on Twitter @SpaceTotcom and Facebook .