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Breathtaking astronomical alignment to captivate millions on Tuesday

By Brian Lada, AccuWeather meteorologist and staff writer
July 02, 2019, 8:34:56 AM EDT


All eyes will be to the sky on Tuesday afternoon as the sun, moon and Earth align in the incredible phenomenon known as a total solar eclipse. But before the moon casts its shadow on the Earth, people will be focused on the weather forecast.

The total solar eclipse will occur on Tuesday, July 2, 2019, and will only be visible across part of the Southern Hemisphere, including much of the southern Pacific Ocean and a swath of South America.

This is the first total solar eclipse anywhere in the world since the "Great American Eclipse" that stunned millions across the United States on Aug. 21, 2017.

eclipse 2017

In this Aug. 21, 2017 file photo, the moon almost eclipses the sun during a near total solar eclipse as seen from Salem, Ore. (AP Photo/Don Ryan, file)


Much of South America will be able to see a partial solar eclipse during the afternoon and evening hours, but proper eye protection is mandatory.

“You can’t even look at the sun with your naked eye, so to safely watch the partial phases, you must put on solar glasses which block out over 99% of the sun's illumination,” Dr. Gordon Telepun told AccuWeather. Telepun is an expert eclipse photographer and eclipse educator that has traveled around the world to witness eclipses. He will be in Argentina on Tuesday for this eclipse.

“If you were to look at the sun through a magnified device like binoculars or a telescope or even a camera, you can burn the back of your retina because those magnifying devices are creating a very dot of the bright sun,” Telepun said.

The only area that will be able to see the total solar eclipse will be a small area of Chile and Argentina.

Click here to watch coverage of the eclipse on AccuWeather.com.

South America 2019 solar eclipse


This area, known as the path of totality, will extend from La Serena, Chile, to just south, but not including, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Areas near the middle of this path can expect around 2 minutes and 30 seconds in the sun’s shadow. Meanwhile, people near the edge of the path will only experience totality for around a minute.

However, the celestial spectacle may be missed in areas where clouds obscure the sky.

Eclipse 7/2


Fortunately, many areas in the path of totality in South America are forecast to be able to view the eclipse on Tuesday afternoon, but some clouds are possible.

Clouds will likely spoil the partial eclipse for those in southern Paraguay, southern Brazil, far northern and southern Argentina and southern Chile.

Even though the eclipse will not be visible where it is cloudy, it will still get noticeably dimmer.

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People across South America that miss out on Tuesday’s total solar eclipse will not have to wait long until another is visible from the continent.

In just 17 months, the moon will once again completely block out the sun across Chile and Argentina. This eclipse will take place on Dec. 14, 2020, with the path of totality being just a few hundred miles south of Tuesday’s eclipse.

“For United States' observers who experienced their first total solar eclipse in 2017 and have the burning desire to see another one and can’t stand to wait until 2024, traveling south is a reasonable international journey to [this eclipse],” Telepun said.

People across North America that do not want to travel internationally to see an eclipse will need to remain patient as the next eclipse won’t take place for a few more years.

On Oct. 14, 2023, a "ring of fire" solar eclipse will be visible across part of the western U.S., as well as Central America and northern South America. In this type of eclipse, the moon is farther away from the Earth, meaning that it is not quite large enough to completely cover the disk of the sun.

However, the main event will be six months later.

ring of fire

An annular solar eclipse, known as a ring of fire eclipse, on Jan. 4, 2011. (Image/NASA/Hinode/XRT)


On April 8, 2024, a total solar eclipse will be visible across the eastern U.S., as well as part of northern Mexico and eastern Canada.

This eclipse may be more impressive and seen by more people than the one in 2017 as it will last longer and will be visible in several large cities, including Dallas, Indianapolis and Cleveland.

The 2024 total solar eclipse could spark an interest in astronomy for a whole new generation of eclipse chasers.

“There is no other situation on Earth, other than a solar eclipse, where there is a physical blocking of the entire electromagnetic spectrum of the sun,” Telepun said. “Total solar eclipses are the result of the wonderful and perpetual clockwork of the solar system.”

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