Yesterday millions of people across Chile and Argentina witnessed a total solar eclipse and I was fortunate to be one of them. My viewing companions included seasoned eclipse chasers Toner and Ron Stevenson and Charlotte, Brian and Linda, here for their first eclipse. We headed to a site we had booked near Vicuña, Chile, inland from La Serena. Viewing inland was predicted to have a better chance of clear skies and we were not disappointed. The sky was clear with none of the haze that was visible over La Serena.
The countdown started and at 3:23pm the eclipse was happening. Surprisingly the partial phases passed very quickly and it was time for the diamond ring which heralds the start (and end) of totality. The diamond ring seemed to lasted longer than past eclipses, possibly due to a crater on the Moon. Cheers and cries of amazement and delight erupted across the site we were sharing with 250 other eclipse chasers.
The corona on this eclipse was very extended and sitting just above the hills, it made for a spectacular view. Two minutes, thirty five seconds passed all too quickly with cries of ‘wait, go back’ as the second diamond ring announced the end of totality. As the Moon started moving off the disk of the Sun, much celebrating and sharing of photos ensued.
Everyone seemed thrilled by the experience including my first-time eclipse chaser companions. For me it was a really memorable eclipse with the mountain backdrop, a late afternoon eclipse and the extended corona in crystal clear skies.