Solar Eclipse Across Argentina: An Event of a Lifetime!
May 20, 2019
The total solar eclipse of the Sun, happening on July 2, 2019 in Argentina, is just two months away. Astronomers and researchers will be out viewing the event as a chance to study the Sun’s corona and the Moon.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Using a combination of orbiting satellites, airborne equipment, and ground-based telescopes, they hope to discover the secrets of the Sun not revealed before. But, keep in mind that the upcoming total solar eclipse is not only a major scientific event, but for ordinary viewers it is also the chance of a lifetime to see the nature’s most incredible spectacle.
What happens during the total solar eclipse? The Moon completely blocks the Sun’s bright disk, making the landscape plunge into darkness. Bright stars and planets become strikingly bright in the sky, the temperature drops, birds go back to their nests, and animals behave as if the night came to change the day. But, that is not all – where the Sun previously shone bright stands the black silhouette of the Moon, surrounded by the outer atmosphere of the Sun, also known as the corona.
The powerful magnetic field of the Sun shapes the corona, made of extremely hot rarefied gas, into loops and streamers. It shines beautifully in the sky, emitting the light not quite comparable to anything else. For those who at least once witnessed a total solar eclipse, it makes sense why people want to experience this extremely rare event at least once in a lifetime.
On Tuesday, July 2, the Moon’s 70-mile-wide shadow will sweep across Argentina, starting from the southern part of the country a few minutes past 4 p.m. and will end at about 5.30-5.40 p.m. local time. The phase of totality can be witnessed roughly at 5.39 p.m. in San Juan province and will last about 2 minutes and 30 seconds; in Buenos Aires, the totality will begin at 5.42 p.m. and last for 2 minutes and 5 seconds.
About 20 million people will witness the total solar eclipse in Argentina this year, and they will be joined by millions of local and international visitors who would travel long distances to stand in the shadow of the Moon for roughly 2 minutes. The rest of Argentina will witness a partial solar eclipse, where the Moon will cover a half or more of the bright disk of the Sun, with 75% of obscuration in the north of the country and about 99% in Buenos Aires, the capital city.
Total v Partial Eclipse
Astronomers say that there is a big difference between a 99% partial eclipse and a total one. Unless you know that the partial eclipse is happening at the moment, you might miss it. But, total solar eclipse is impossible to remain unnoticed, because daylight gives way to the darkness and returns almost as quickly as it disappears.
There is another difference between a partial and total solar eclipses, and it concerns safety of the viewers. When the Sun is totally eclipsed, its brightness can be compared to the full Moon, so it is safe to look at it directly without even wearing sunglasses. Moreover, you can use optical equipment to look at or take pictures of totally eclipsed Sun. But, to view a partial solar eclipse, a special solar filter has to be used, namely one meeting the ISO 12312-2 international safety standard. These filters can be purchased as eclipse glasses or handheld viewers.
Astronomers warn that while wearing eclipse glasses you cannot look through optical equipment, such as a camera, telescope, or binoculars. Using those while wearing your glasses will focus the sunlight burning through the filters causing injury to the eyes. For those unable to purchase a safe solar filter, there are ways to view the partial solar eclipse indirectly, by looking at the shadow created by the sunlight shining through the leaves of a tree or through outstretched hands when facing the Sun with the back.
Not everyone will be able to enjoy the solar eclipse along the path of totality. But those who can make such a journey will experience a breathtaking cosmic event that only happens once in about 18 months at different locations on the planet. People of Argentina are lucky, as they get to witness two total solar eclipses in a row – the one on July 2, 2019, and another one on December 14, 2020. If you want to make plans to intercept the total solar eclipse later than that, join the community of those chasing eclipse on December 2, 2021 in Antarctica, and/or April 20, 2023 in Australia, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, the Indian Ocean, and the South Pacific.