There’s a solar eclipse today – but only a few people get to see it

The sun’s corona is visible as the moon passes in front of the sun during a total solar eclipse (Getty)

In 2017, a total solar eclipse blotted out the daylight across North America.

Today, it’s South America’s turn.

For a few minutes later today, the moon will pass across parts of Chile and Argentina and give onlookers the chance to witness a full solar eclipse.

Unfortunately, most of the 6,800-mile ‘path of totality’ will be across open ocean. But for those skywatchers that do gather in parts of Chile and Argentina, they’ll be treated to four minutes and three seconds of darkness as the moon obscures the sun.

The very last part of the path of totality is Chascomús, a district of Buenos Aires. Viewers there will see the eclipse at 5.44pm local time, just before the sun starts to set.

A solar eclipse takes place when the sun, moon and Earth are all in a straight line. The moon blocks the sun’s rays and gives people a chance to witness its fiery corona.

This will be the second of three solar eclipses to take place over South America in this decade. The first was in 2010 and the next one will take place on December 14, 2020.

Chile is a pretty ideal location for stargazing and skywatching. A giant next-generation telescope called the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) is currently being built there.

Astronomer Patrick McCarthy is the vie president of the GMT and told the BBC that anyone who witnesses a solar eclipse is completely ‘mesmerised’ by it.

The path of today’s solar eclipse (

‘Going into a total solar eclipse is a remarkable feeling,’ he said.

‘The colours get bluer, the shadows change and everything on the ground looks washed out. It’s as if the world is becoming darker, almost monochromatic.’

A solar eclipse occurs when the sun, moon and Earth line up (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Even if you can’t make it to South America, you can still watch the solar eclipse in real time. Nasa has partnered with the Exploratorium in San Francisco to livestream the event as it happens.

‘Studying the Sun during total solar eclipses helps scientists understand the source and behavior of solar radiation that drives space weather near Earth, which can affect the health of astronauts in space and the durability of materials used to build spacecraft,’ the space agency said.

‘Similar data will be important in planning Nasa’s return of astronauts to the Moon in 2024 and eventual crewed missions to Mars.’


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