2020 Patagonia Solar Eclipse
On December 14, 2020 a new solar eclipse will reach its entirety in part of Patagonia Argentina and Chile. It will also be seen in Peru, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia and the adjacent oceans, but not in full.
What is an eclipse?
A solar eclipse is an astronomical phenomenon that occurs when the Moon interposes between the Earth and the Sun.
For this to happen, the Earth, the Sun and the Moon must be aligned or very close to being so that the Moon momentarily covers the Sun, preventing its rays from reaching the Earth.
This is visualized like this because the Sun is 400 times wider than the Moon, but it is also 400 times farther.
Types of eclipse
There are two types of eclipses: the solar and the lunar.
A lunar eclipse is an astronomical phenomenon that occurs when the Earth passes directly between the Moon and the Sun, causing the Earth’s shadow to project over the Moon. Lunar eclipses are more frequent than solar ones.
âIt’s true, but there are subtleties. Considering only total eclipses, in a century there are on average more solar than lunar ones; but if we also count the penumbral lunar eclipses (not total), on average it is almost the same amount (slightly larger the lunar ones). The biggest difference is because a lunar eclipse is seen from half the world, and a total solar eclipse is seen from a very small region; that is why, in the same city, you can see dozens of lunar eclipses in a century, but only a total solar eclipse every 300 or more years. â
According to the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands (IAC), the minimum amount of annual eclipses is four: two solar eclipses, total or annular, and two lunar eclipses.
Where can the solar eclipse of 2020 be seen?
On December 14, 2020, you will be able to witness a new solar eclipse, whose darkest shadow strip, thousands of kilometers long by only about 100 wide, will benefit only a few locations in Chile and Argentina.
This means that no matter how visible it is in several countries of the southern cone, in order to witness the moment when the Sun is 100% blocked by the Moon, one will have to move to one of these few Patagonian towns.
People who are outside the 100-kilometer strip will only see the partial eclipse and the further they are from that narrow strip, they will see the Sun without any change.
To which Dr. Sergio Aldo Cellone adds:
âI think that the most complete and reliable way to know where to see the solar eclipse is the page of Xavier Jubier, a French fan who visited us this year and works together with the IAU (International Astronomical Union). The 2020 eclipse page is available here. It also has a mobile app called Totality, and it gives you the eclipse data for any site. â
Taking advantage of this interesting fact, if we cross the extended strip, we can see that the towns of Villarrica and PucĂłn will be the great privileged ones in Chile.
In Argentina, the possibility of witnessing the eclipse in its entirety is shared between some towns in the provinces of RĂo Negro and NeuquĂ©n that, surely, are already getting ready to receive observers.
From the west coast, over the Pacific Ocean to its passage along the east coast, over the Atlantic, the umbra points or total eclipse will be between 13.01 and 13.19 being the beach of Las Grutas, province of RĂo Negro, an ideal point for the final observation.
It should be borne in mind that the data that emerged from the Xabier Jubier page are in Universal Time (UT), that is, Greenwich Time, so you have to subtract 3 hours to go to Argentine legal time (HLA).
The geographical point where the eclipse will be longer, with 02m10s, is also in the province of RĂo Negro, in the town of Sierra Colorada.
Piedra del Ăguila, in the province of NeuquĂ©n, is another town where the solar eclipse will reach one of its maximum points.
Usually these phenomena occur at some point on Earth every 18 months. But the strange thing is that a total solar eclipse is visible from the same place on Earth. That is something that happens every more than 300 years.
On July 2, 2019, there was a total solar eclipse that was seen along the Pacific Ocean, in Chile and, at dusk, in Argentina and Uruguay.
In the words of NASA, “total solar eclipses are only possible on Earth due to a celestial coincidence“, something we have already explained above.
In addition to the total solar eclipse of July 2, 2019, which dawned in the South Pacific, touching land in southern Chile and ending at the southern end of the Rio de La Plata, Argentina and Chile witnessed this same natural phenomenon on the 26th. February 2017.
On that occasion, also the best places for observation, were located in the Argentine and Chilean Patagonia, as will happen on December 14, 2020.
At the planetary level, this is the route it will have:
Precautions to take into account with a solar eclipse
A total solar eclipse is an extraordinary and spectacular event and to be able to witness it, a privilege.
But it is necessary to take some precautions so that the enjoyment of an instant does not become a future suffering.
The Argentine Ophthalmology Council and the Ophthalmological Society of San Juan, on the occasion of the eclipse of 2019, left us some instructions to take care of the health of the eyes of children and adults.
- Never look at the sun with unprotected eyes.
- Do not do it with binoculars or telescopes, unless they have a sunscreen.
- Consult an expert astronomer.
- Wear specialized glasses to see the Sun during a solar eclipse.
- The only time when you can look at the Sun without a filter is during the total eclipse.
Even if the observation to the Sun is for a short period of time, if the correct protection is not available, it can permanently damage the retina. It can even cause what is known as solar retinopathy, which is a permanent damage to the retina, resulting from exposure by observing solar eclipses without adequate collection.
In this graphic prepared thanks to the contributions of many institutions responsible for this information, you can see more clearly the different stages through which the eclipse passes and the precautions to be taken.
And finally and after thanking the responsible institutions and again Dr. Sergio Aldo Cellone for his contributions, to say that the safest way to observe the solar eclipse is through live broadcasts on television or the internet. But who erases the memories left by a unique and rare live experience, right?