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A dog is shown with paper solar esclipse glasses on held in place by a man on the side.

Science

A total solar eclipse in an astronomer's paradise

Northern Chile is one of the few places in the world on Tuesday that experienced a total solar eclipse. The country prides itself on being an astronomer's paradise and the solar phenomenon vent drew visitors from all over the world.

Updated:

A man jokes with his dog by placing a glasses for viewing the July 2 solar eclipse during the sunset at a beach in Serena, Chile, June 30, 2019.

Credit:

Rodrigo Garrido/Reuters

Hundreds of thousands of tourists scattered across the north Chilean desert on Tuesday to experience a rare, and irresistible combination for astronomy buffs: a total eclipse of the sun viewed from beneath the world's clearest skies.

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun, plunging the planet into darkness. It happens only rarely in any given spot across the globe.

A solar eclipse is shown in the distance framed between two people in the nearground in shadow.

People observe a solar eclipse at Incahuasi, Chile, July 2, 2019.

Credit:

Juan Jose Gonzalez Galaz/Reuters

The best views this time were from Chile's sprawling Atacama desert north of the coastal city of La Serena, where a lack of humidity and city lights combine to create the world's clearest skies.

The region had not seen an eclipse since 1592, according to the Chilean Astronomy Society. The next one is expected in 2165.

Together with parts of Argentina and New Zealand, northern Chile is one of the few places in the world that was directly facing the sun when the moon passed in front of the earth, blocking its light completely and darkening skies for several minutes.

A man wearing a red sweatshirt is shown with a mask with a filter to view a the solar eclipse.

A man wears a mask to observe a solar eclipse at La Serena, Chile.

Credit:

Pablo Sanhueza/Reuters

Chile prides itself on being an astronomer's paradise, home to dozens of telescopes and ambitious studies at its observatories. Though the massive telescopes were not operating during the event because their instrumentation is too sensitive.

But the eclipse had many scientists preparing a rare opportunity to study the event during a low-activity period in the solar cycle when it was clearer out than usual, offering observers a chance to see more nuance without the normal flares and other clutter that emanates.

A large group of people are shown looking up at the sky with a paper solar eclipse viewfinders.

People test their special solar glasses before the solar eclipse in La Silla European Southern Observatory (ESO) at Coquimbo, Chile, on July 2, 2019.
 

Credit:

Rodrigo Garrido/Reuters

A large telescope is shown shining in the sun with people underneath.

People await the the solar eclipse in La Silla ESO.

Credit:

Rodrigo Garrido/Reuters

"It's a unique occasion," Chilean astronomer Ivo Saviane told Reuters from the La Silla Observatory that he manages. "For everyone, whether from Chile or abroad, it's exciting."

A portrait photograph shows an older man with shiny solar eclipse glasses standing in a yellow door frame.

A man tests special glasses for the total solar eclipse in Incahuasi, Chile, on July 1, 2019.

Credit:

Juan Jose Gonzalez Galaz/Reuters

Total solar eclipses occur at any specific location on average every 360 years, according to the European Southern Observatory.

Chilean President Sebastián Piñera is one of 150 "VIPs" with tickets to watch the eclipse at La Silla. Piñera has touted the eclipse as among the most important events in Chile this year.

Several bottles are shown with a "Solar Eclipse 2019" printed on them.

Solar eclipse souvenir bottles of olive oil are for sale in a store in Incahuasi, Chile.

Credit:

Juan Jose Gonzalez Galaz/Reuters

A woman is shown with blonde and blue hair looking down at computer monitors.

Rydia Hayes-Huer, a physics major at Bridgewater State University and a member of the Solar Wind Sherpas, prepares an equipment before a total solar eclipse in Valle del Elqui, Chile. The Solar Wind Sherpas are a team of international scientists who travel the world observing solar eclipses.

Credit:

Pablo Sanhueza/Reuters

A woman wearing a purple vest is shown holding solar eclipse glasses to her face.

A woman tests special glasses for the total solar eclipse in Incahuasi, Chile.

Credit:

Juan Jose Gonzalez Galaz/Reuters

People are shown looking down at laptops with large telescopes next to them.

Scientists prepare their equipment at La Silla ESO in Coquimbo, Chile.

Credit:

Rodrigo Garrido/Reuters

Reporting by Reuters TV and Fabian Cambero.

Tagged:
Chile

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