Photos From the 2019 Solar Eclipse in Chile and Argentina

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It is a revelation so brief, only lasting a few minutes at most, and spiritually violent, that grown-ups often find themselves inexplicably screaming, crying and then booking flights to the next eclipse site as soon as they can.

The last total eclipse seen on this planet was in August 2017 when noonday darkness swept across the continental U.S. coast to coast. The next one due is in Argentina in December 2020.

For most of the next two hours after it left Oeno Island, however, Wednesday’s eclipse was a show reserved for porpoises and the occasional eclipse cruise ship. It traced a path to the northeast with its cargo of just four minutes of darkness maximum, just missing Easter Island — now that would be a place to watch time melt! It then curved southeast, its shadow not hitting land again until it reached La Serena, Chile. It sprinted across the Atacama Desert and Argentina before ending at sunset over the Atlantic Ocean.

Astronomers are particularly interested in the corona, a mandala of energetic hot gases flying off the sun’s surface and filling the inner solar system in radioactivity and magnetic turbulence. But it can only be seen when the sun’s disk is blotted out because the corona it is too faint —- about as bright as a full moon — to be seen against the rude glare of the full sun.

They want to know how the corona winds up at temperatures of a million degrees, thousands of times hotter than the sun itself, perhaps by being jackhammered by magnetic fields near the surface, a reminder of the intricacies as well as the violence that comes with living alongside a star.

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