Next December 14th, the sky will darken completely La Araucanía Region, and partially the rest of the Chilean territory. On this day, we will be marveling at a new total solar eclipse. This event will occur after the last total solar eclipse that darkened the Atacama Region of Chile on July 2nd, 2019.
What is an eclipse?
The word eclipse derives from the Greek word “ékleipsis” which means disappearance or abandonment, in reference to the absence of sun in the sky. This solar phenomenon happens when a planet or, like in this case, the moon stands in the way of the solar light, preventing it to reach the surface of planet Earth. On our planet, we experience both lunar and solar eclipses.
Will it be completely dark?
Yes, the 90-kilometer in diameter strip of light will cover great part of La Araucanía Region, and the northern part of Los Ríos Region, between Temuco city and Panguipulli village. In other words, the solar eclipse will be total in places like Puerto Saavedra, Carahue, Teodoro Schmidt, Nueva Imperial, Nueva Toltén, Gorbea, Lanco, Villarrica, Pucón, Freire, Pitrufquén, Temuco, Loncoche, curarrehue, Lican Ray and Panguipulli.
“300 more years will elapse before we see another total solar eclipse again at this location”, says José Maza, Chilean astronomer and physicist.
Will the total solar eclipse be visible throughout Chile?
Even though the complete darkness will occur in La Araucanía Region, the solar event will manifest partially throughout Chile.
The following percentages represent the total surface of the sun that will be covered by the moon depending on the location, during the next astronomy event on december 14, 2020:
The solar event will start at 11:41 am (UTC -3) and will reach its highest expression between 1:02 and 1:04 pm. We will be witnessing 2 minutes and 9 seconds of complete darkness before the phenomenon ends, at 1:31 pm.
Will it be possible to travel to La Araucanía?
This will mostly depend on the status of each commune, within the Paso-a-Paso plan created by the Chilean government. This step-by-step strategy was established to face the pandemic according to the sanitary situation of each zone in particular, and determines 5 different phases. Each of them include restrictions and specific obligations, and the progress and regression from one particular step to another is subject to epidemiological indicators, healthcare network and traceability of the virus.
“La Araucanía is in a rather delicate situation, as there are several communes still in lockdown. We hope that, by the date of the eclipse, the region will have advanced towards more progressive steps (phase 4 or 5). Because, in order to travel from one commune to another, it must be at least in the Preparation Step (phase 3)”, affirmed Paula Daza, the undersecretary of the Ministry of Health.
The visitors will be able to travel only to places in phase 3, with the respective travel permits. Before the pandemic, it was estimated that approximately one million tourists would be traveling to La Araucanía Region to attend the total solar eclipse. Now, we are expecting less than 300.000 tourists.
When will occur the next total solar eclipse?
This event will be the sixteenth total solar eclipse in Chile since the independence in the 19th century. The next one will take place on December 4, 2021 in Chile’s Antarctic Territory. The following eclipse will be on December 5, 2048 in Aysén Region. Afterwards, the regions of Valparaíso, Metropolitana and O’Higgins will be witnessing this particular event on August 12, 2064.
Without a doubt, a total solar eclipse is an incredible astronomical experience to see. Check out this article about the meaning of such event from the Mapuche indigenous cosmovision, the first inhabitants of La Araucanía Region.