Report on the 2019 Total Solar Eclipse

©2017 by Fred Espenak

The path of the total solar eclipse of July 2, 2019 crossed the Pacific Ocean and South America (including parts of Chile and Argentina). EclipseWise's 2019 total eclipse page has detailed predictions and maps of this astronomical event.

Our Spears Travel eclipse trip chose the Elqui Valley in central Chile as our eclipse viewing destination. The previous year Gary Spears, my wife Pat, and I visited the area and decided that Mamalluca Observatory would make an excellent location for eclipse day.

Over 50 people joined us on our eclipse trip which began in Santiago on June 27, 2019. After two days of site-seeing in this mountain ringed city, we flew to a Serena and then motor coached through the Elqui Valley to Vicuna. The group then split in half to stay at two hostels in town. Mamalluca Observatory is located only a few miles north of Vicuna. Nevertheless, we got an early start for the short drive since tens of thousands of people were expected to flood into Vicuna for the eclipse.

I visited Mamalluca Observatory the day before the eclipse to make sure that all was ready for our group. While there, I set up my primary telescope (Vixen 90mm Fluorite Refractor). Because it was still daylight, I had to do a 'blind' polar alignment using a smart phone compass and inclinometer (for azimuth and altitude of the telescope's polar axis). On eclipse day, I finished set up of my 10 still and video cameras (including four Nikon DSLRs, two Panasonic video cameras, two Go Pros, and one 360 degree action camera), which took about five hours.

Mamalluca Observatory features a visitor's center with al large roof-top terrace. This served as the prime viewing location for most of the group. The rest of us set up on the grounds surrounding the observatory itself. In terms of weather, we could not have hoped for better. It was a clear, bright, sunny day with no clouds or wind.

After lunch on the roof terrace, the final eclipse countdown began. Here is a summary of the eclipse circumstances from Mamalluca:

                              Event                Contact  Local Time     Alt       Azm
                              ------------------------------------------------------------
                              Partial Eclipse Begins  C1     3:23:30 pm    25.0°    320.1°
                              Total Eclipse Begins    C2     4:38:40 pm    13.2°    306.8°
                                                     Max     4:39:52 pm    13.0°    306.6°
                              Total Eclipse Ends      C3     4:41:03 pm    12.8°    306.4°
                              Partial Eclipse Ends*   C4     5:46:47 pm    00.6°    297.2°
     
                                   *4th contact occurs after Sunset
 
                              Sunset 5:29 pm
 
                              Duration of Totality = 2 m 23 s (with Lunar Limb Corrections)



Gazing at Totality
Gazing at Totality


During most of the afternoon I was busy with final camera adjustments and triggering various camera timers.

In the final minutes before totality, the sky took on the familiar steely gray color as the lunar shadow approached. I began removing solar filters on my telescope, lenses and video cameras in the final 60 seconds before 2nd contact.

An eclipse app (by Olav Andrade) running on my iPhone gave me audio announcements including a countdown before second contact. This allowed me to acquire a good series of exposures of the diamond ring. Once totality began I started my Promote Control timer on the Nikon D850 and Vixen refractor. The device automatically shoots bracketed exposure sequences during totality. So I was free to look around and enjoy the view during the eerie twilight accompanying the total phase.

The eclipse app running on my iPhone gave me ample warning to capture the formation of Baily's beads at 3rd contact. After shooting another 20 seconds of Diamond Ring, it was time to replace solar filters on all cameras.

I continued to shoot the partial phases after totality even though it always seems so anticlimactic. The only highlight of the post totality partial phases was that the Sun set behind distant mountains about 15 minutes before 4th contact.

Then it was a mad rush to break down and pack all the equipment before it got dark. Our bus back to Vicuna got caught up in a bit of traffic but we still reach our hostel before midnight.

We had an 8am departure the next morning to drive back to La Serena and an afternoon flight back to Santiago.

It has taken a month to process my eclipse photos but I've finally managed to get a selection of them posted on the following page (with more to come soon):

2019 Total Solar Eclipse Photo Gallery

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Baily's Beads at 3rd Contact
Baily's Beads at 3rd Contact


The next total eclipse of the Sun will occur on 2020 Dec 14 and will again be visible from Chile and Argentina. I will be leading an eclipse trip to Chile with Spears Travel.

The next total solar eclipse visible from the USA takes place on 2024 April 08.



2019 Eclipse Links

2019 Total Solar Eclipse Photo Gallery

EclipseWise 2019 Total Solar Eclipse



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