As never before, thousands of tourists from all over the world are searching for the location of the Coquimbo Region in Google Earth. They want to know how to get there by sky, sea or land. They want to know everything about this small and distant point on the map. Here, thousands of tourists expect to live a spectacular astronomical experience, surprising and unforgettabl￼e.
And is not for less.
On July 2, 2019, the Coquimbo Region will be the epicenter of a wonderful and exceptional total solar eclipse. Before sunset, at exactly 4:39 p.m. (Chilean time, in winter), the day will be transformed into night. In addition to contemplating the solar corona in all its splendor, visitors will be able to observe the starry sky in the middle of the afternoon and visualize naked eyes Mars, Mercury and Venus.
This extraordinary astronomical phenomenon will occur when the full moon completely conceals the solar disk -in the constellation of Gemini-, in one of the most spectacular and popular events that nature offers every one or two years in some area of the planet.
The last total solar eclipse occurred on August 21, 2017 in the United States and mobilized 10 million people to an extensive stretch of totality that crossed the North American territory -Portland (Atlantic) to South Carolina (Pacific) -, converting that phenomenon natural in the most seen and photographed in history.
And now, the new scenario is the dream for the eclipse hunters who travel to the most extreme corners of the world to witness this phenomena that can be visualized -on average-, every 375 years in the same place on the planet.
In fact, the main hotels in the northern region sold their reserves two years ago and the government and tourism institutions are designing a contingency or emergency plan to receive between 500 thousand and one million tourists.
In the case of Coquimbo, the records of retired astrophysicist of the National Administration of Aeronautics and Space (NASA), Fred Espenak – «Mr. Eclipse «-, remember that a similar eclipse occurred 426 years ago – June 9, 1592 -, being completely dark, also, La Serena, Ovalle, Illapel, Los Vilos, Pichidangui and La Ligua, when the area inhabited by indigenous people Changos and Diaguitas was colonized by the Spaniards.
Sun and shadow
The eclipse of Tuesday, July 2, 2019 will last 2 hours with 24 minutes and 8 seconds since the Full Moon touches the solar limb (first contact) until it leaves the edge of the sun (Fourth contact).
Although the eclipse begins in French Polynesia, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean – Pitcairn Island, is the closest – the shadow or umbra (band of totality) of 146 kilometers wide, will enter the coastal area of Guanaqueros -Chañaral de Aceituno, and under total darkness will be Guanaqueros, Totoralillo, Coquimbo, La Serena, Vicuña, Pisco Elqui, Samo Alto, La Higuera, Punta de Choros, Cachiyuyo and Domeyko, as well as the astronomical observatories Tololo, La Silla and Las Bells.
The maximum or totality of the solar eclipse will be fleeting and will last in Coquimbo just 2 minutes and 1 second. Enough to get excited to tears with that indescribable cosmic encounter between the natural satellite and our nearest star.
Outside the totality zone the eclipse will be visualized as partial: Vallenar (99.15% darkness), Tongoy (99.94%), Arica (64.87%), Santiago (92.04%), Punta Arenas ( 45.96%).
The observation of the total solar eclipse requires the use of special lenses -certified with ISO 12312-2-, especially those recommended by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the American Astronomical Society (AAS), for sale from Astronomy Valley.
The certified glasses are manufactured with polymers that filter 100% of ultraviolet rays and 99.999% of infrared rays of intense visible light. Its proper use prevents solar retinopathy, a severe year to vision by exposure to intense sunlight.
To see a new eclipse in Coquimbo, we have to wait until 1:01 p.m. (Chilean time) on December 7, 2132, when again the day turns into a night on the porteñas Cross of the Third Millennium and the Mosque, in addition to La Serena , Ovalle, The fig tree, Los vilos, Vicuña, Salamanca, Illapel and San Felipe.
Forests and glaciers
In addition to the total eclipse of Sol de Coquimbo, exceptionally Chile, because of its status as the longest and narrowest country on the planet, will be the epicenter of two other similar eclipses. On Monday, December 14, 2020, another similar one will submerge the day in night under a territorial strip from Puerto Saavedra to Curarrehue, passing through Carahue, Nueva Imperial, Temuco, Villarrica, Pucón, Loncoche, Panguipulli. And on Saturday, December 4, 2021, the dark shadow will darken the longest day on the planet (24 daylight hours), in the Wedell Sea, in Antarctic territory claimed by Chile.