Breathtaking view of solar eclipse leaves South Americans enthralled - GulfToday

Breathtaking view of solar eclipse leaves South Americans enthralled

eclipse

The diamond ring effect is seen during the total solar eclipse from El Molle, Chile.

Chile, a country that hosts some of the world's most powerful astronomical telescopes had hundreds of thousands of people looking up at the skies.

Gazing at the breathtakingly beautiful view of the eclipse, people were left enthralled as the day turned into complete darkness in Chile and Argentina.

Thousands of people on beaches near the Chilean city of La Serena cheered and clapped at the moment when the disc of the Moon closed over the Sun and blocked it out completely for more than two and a half minutes.

"Oh my God, it's incredible, more, more, more.

"The truth is that even if one knows what's going on, it is shocking the minute that the shadow of darkness begins to come and that silence begins," said astronomer Sonia Duffau.

An estimated 300,000 tourists had flocked to the region where dryness, crystal-clear air and little light pollution have created a stargazers' paradise.

Solar eclipses happen when the Sun, the Moon and Earth line up, allowing the Moon to cast its shadow on Earth.

The eclipse began at 13:01 (17:01 GMT) in the Pacific Ocean, and a 95 mile (150 kilometer)-wide band of total darkness reached Chile's coast at 4:38 pm (20:38 GMT), before crossing into southeastern Argentina and into the wastes of the South Atlantic.

'Eyes of humanity'

Chile's President Sebastian Pinera joined the crowds at La Higuera to witness the eclipse.

"Today is a very important day and one we have waited for so long," said Pinera.

In the capital Santiago, crowds flocked to downtown parks and squares to witness the event.

Over the border in Argentina, people massed to look into the sky in parks and on tourist trails in the western Cuyo wine-producing region, which had the country's longest exposure to the eclipse.

Scientists and astronomers will use data collected from studying the eclipse to verify some theories and carry out a series of experiments.

Agence France-Presse

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