The 2019 Eclipse
in Chile

The eclipsed Sun was hanging over a misty Pacific Ocean with Venus gleaming beneath it. The corona was a pale ghostly white hue with streamers marking the Sun's magnetic field.

Elqui Valley, Chile
The Elqui Valley


Before The Eclipse

We began our journey in Canada.

Our flight to Chile and from Argentina allowed us a few days stopover in Toronto with its galleries, museums, tall buildings and access to Niagara Falls.

It was our second visit to Chile and we began in Santiago. We revisited a few places and went to some that were not there back in 1994.

Valparaiso was new for us and we enjoyed the setting, the hills and using all the transport systems.

In Ovalle we were told that the eclipse would be "99.5% total" there. We settled for the petroglyphs but moved North to La Serena, our eclipse base.

Accommodation here had been a problem for the last two years with many places cancelling, not responding or raising their prices. One host had sold his property and offered us a room in his new house about ten days before our arrival. The only trouble was that he had moved to a different city.

In the end we stayed in a family run home stay. Although safe and central it was probably one of the coldest places I had ever stayed in.

We had a car (for 4 days) and drove to Vicuna, where many people were planning to see the eclipse. We managed a night tour at one of the many observatories in the region. We considered the area above the observatory as an eclipse site but discarded it due to bad roads.

We looked at a lake (actually a resevoir) in the Elqui Valley. The views were good but facilities were few.

In the end we found a small fishing village close to the centre line and decided that was the place for us.


Eclipse Day

Eclipse day dawned clear with blue skies. There was mist and cloud over the sea but we were told that was always true in the mornings.

We packed the car with our eclipse day items and waited. Dave Wetherall joined us. He had been with us in Indonesia in 2016; he was in town and he needed a ride.

At 8:40 we set off for the 30km ride to the village of Caleta del Hornos. We were there in 30 minutes. The parking areas near the village entrance were taken but we managed to find a spot 100m away by the village school.

Breakfast was a delicious seafood empanada (like a pasty) in one of the many seafood restaurants. The village is a popular lunch stop for Chileans travelling on the nearby highway.

The village was quiet and people were going about their business as normal. The restaurant staff remembered us from the previous day and greeted us warmly. People pointed at the clouds over the sea and said they'll be gone by 11.

They were.

We walked around looking for a good place from which to see the eclipse. High up was good with a panorama but it was windy and close to cars on dirt roads - the dust would not be good.

We ended up by the fishing pier. There was no wind and few people. Most of the visitors were Chileans, and most of those were from the capital. They wanted to know how to view the eclipse safely and what to look out for. Many were not aware that you can look at the totally eclipsed Sun without protection ("sin lentes").

I chatted to the marine police who informed me that the street lights were automatic so I assumed they would switch on as it got dark during the eclipse.

We set up the tripod and Talaat planned a series of shots of the mountains before during and after the eclipse. I had my trusty hand held camera, a new one since the last eclipse. I wanted to get a panorama showing the Sun over the sea, hopefully with Venus. I also wanted the corona and the diamond ring. Everything was set.

Except the clouds had returned.

And they were over the sea blocking out the Sun. Higher up and inland there were none - we were getting messages from people in the eclipse FaceBook group who had gone further along the coastal highway to the self proclamed "eclipse city" of La Higuera. This was higher and free of coastal mist or clouds.

Should we stay or should we go?

After 30 minutes the clouds disappeared within minutes and that was the last we saw of them. The villagers' description of their local weather was spot on.

First Contact, the beginning of the partial eclipse was at 3:22pm. We could see the small bite after a few minutes but all around us things looked normal. Partial phases normally last between and hour and an hour and a half. For the first two thirds of the time, you would not be aware that anything was happening if you did not have lenses to look at the Sun with.

By 4pm, half of the Sun was missing. Now you could notice that the light had changed. It was more mellow and more golden. We watched the birds, mainly pelicans, coots and gulls. There were also a few eagles soaring in the updrafts. They were all looking normal.

By 4:20, the light was looking very eerie. The sky had begun to darken. The reflection of the Sun on the sea was no longer painful on the eyes. The birds were now flying, looking for somewhere to roost. Flocks of birds could be seen high up. One smaller bird landed nearby and started singing.

It was now 4:30 and a few people near were putting their coats on - but they were going nowhere. The ambiance was now something they'd never seen before. A few dogs barked. The sky was a deep blue and getting darker. I looked for stars but didn't see any.

 

Street light on the pier comes on seconds before totality.

The Moon's shadow swept over us at just under 3km per second. The last lingering golden beautiful light from the Sun was extinguished. Gasps of awe and delight could be heard.


Totality begins as the last rays of the Sun disappear behind the Moon.

I looked West.

The eclipsed Sun was hanging over a misty Pacific Ocean with Venus gleaming beneath it. The corona was a pale ghostly white hue with streamers marking the Sun's magnetic field.

It looked big as the Sun and Moon do when near the horizon.

It was a beautiful sight. I spotted Venus, a white star-like glint in the mist just above the horizon and below the Sun.


The eclipsed Sun over the Pacific Ocean in late afternoon. Venus can be seen in the lower left.


The corona with streamers marking the Sun's polar magnetic field.


Venus gleaming in the mist below the eclipsed Sun.

The Moon's shadow was a long elliptical shape and it had plunged us into darkness. The colours of the boats in the sea were no longer visible. The street lights had come on. I glanced back to see a night time view of the village even though the Sun had not set.

It was cold.

The sky began to redden below the Sun and an enormous diamond ring appeared bringing back the light to the world. It was a pale world of reds and golds.

Totality was over.

 

The diamond ring marks the end of totality.

People clapped.

It slowly brightened and within minutes there was little to show that such a magnificent spectacle had just occurred.


First Contact
 
1 minute before Totality
 
Beginning of Totality
 
Middle of Totality
 
End of Totality

The Moon's shadow envelops the bay. Note the colour changes between the first two images.

 

Street lights came on during totality. Thirty minutes later everything looked normal

The chief of the marine police came to see us and shook our hands as if somehow we were responsible for what had just been witnessed.

A family that we had given information to came to us, the woman almost in tears. They thanked us for telling them how to enjoy the eclipse. They said that no pictures and no words could capture what they had just seen. She shared a video with us and we could hear the gasps and cheers as the Sun was completely covered by the Moon. I could also hear her telling others it was safe to look at totality.

Others said they had seen stars - the Southern Cross had been seen overhead. I had forgotten to look up.

We stayed until Fourth Contact when the Moon moved off the Sun. The Sun was now orange a few minutes from setting. We watched it set. Then we really felt cold.


The day ends with a lovely sunset over the ocean.

We picked up our things, said our goodbyes and walked to our restaurant for a seafood supper and much papaya juice.

We learnt that La Higuera had closed because too many people were trying to get in. Several members of the FaceBook group that we knew had simply turned back and seen the eclipse from the beach close to us. The rest of their party was stuck in traffic so we were invited to sit with them for supper.

Many an eclipse story was told.

We could see a steady stream of vehicles coming past the village and heading South to La Serena and Santiago.

By 10:30pm we decided to head back as the traffic had eased. It took us three hours to drive the 30km back to our freezer like home.

It had been a successful eclipse. Two years of planning had all paid off.


Video


Taken by the Guzman Herrera Family.


Next one, Argentina 2020.


After The Eclipse

Many people had to get back to work or complete a tour. There were very few people around the next day but we did manage to meet with a few old and new friends for lunch.

We returned to Santiago and - after a rest - took the bus over The Andes to Argentina.

Much wine was consumed (sorry "tasted") in Mendoza in sight of the snow capped Andes. Talaat had the biggest slab of meat I have ever seen on her plate at one grill restaurant. I had to help her eat it and it made our jaws ache.

Much historical culture was consumed in Cordoba including three UNESCO listed Jesuit ranches and the house of Che Guevara. We saw a partial eclipse of the Moon from our 9th floor apartment.

The port city of Rosario had the friendliest people, the best parillas (grills) and a Beatles museum.

Buenos Aires was a city of elegant cafes and great art galleries. We visited the houses of Tango singer, Carlos Gardel and the former president's wife, Eva Peron.


General Credits

Kryss Katsiavriades
Written account and all text descriptions. (© 2019). All programming, photo and video editing.

Photo / Video Credits

Kryss Katsiavriades
Eclipsed Sun, Sunset. Village after totality. Harbour light coming on.

Talaat Qureshi
The approach and departure of the shadow.

David Wetherall
Village with street lights.

Guzman Herrera Family
Eclipse video from the beach at Caleta del Hornos.

Other Credits

The village of Caleta del Hornos, the city of La Serena and the country of Chile.
For an excellent welcome.

Brisa Marina, Caleta del Hornos
For breakfast and superb sea food, especially supper after the eclipse.

Europcar (Tattersall)
Rental car. They allowed me to take the car early as they were closed for a national holiday on my booking date.
Special thanks to Maria Ponce.

Janine Francis
For setting up the 2019 eclipse FaceBook group which has been a great source of pleasure and information.

Josie Jackson
For advice on which barrio to stay in Santiago.

Tara Mostafi
For organising my talk to the group and for the t-shirt.

Lesley Bound
For the eclipse stamp and fig roll biscuits.

Hostal Casa Matta, La Serena
Accomodation for eclipse week (but no heating and little hot water).
I made several bookings, most of which cancelled or raised the price. One sold his property in La Serena and offerred me a room in his new house - in a different city. AirBnB gave me a full refund.


KryssTal Related Pages

The 2019 eclipse main page.

Maps of the path of the 2019 eclipse from Fred Espenak and Xavier Jubier and eclipse details at the observation site.

People from the 2019 eclipse.

Photos from Caleta del Hornos, the village of the 2019 eclipse.

General photos of the eclipse base, posters, t-shirts and meetings.

Travel photos from Chile.


External Eclipse 2019 Links

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