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Photos: Sky darkens over South America during last total solar eclipse of the decade

By Brian Lada, AccuWeather meteorologist and staff writer
July 02, 2019, 9:58:42 PM EDT

Millions of sky gazers were left in awe Tuesday as the moon blocked out the sun over Chile and Argentina -- a celestial event that drew worldwide attention.

The eclipse was only visible across the southern Pacific Ocean and South America, but people from around the world tuned in to watch it on NASA TV.

"I've traveled from the UK [and] this was my 1st eclipse," Carol Wright told AccuWeather. Wright watched the eclipse from an observatory from La Silla, Chile.

"It was the most incredible multi-sensory thing I’ve ever seen," Wright said. She lives in Hull, about 200 miles north of London. "I’m not sure seeing it more than once would ever be as good as the first time!"

(AP Photo/Esteban Felix)

The moon passes in front of the sun during a solar eclipse in La Higuera, Chile, Tuesday, July 2, 2019. Tens of thousands of tourists and locals gaped skyward Tuesday as a rare total eclipse of the sun began to darken the heavens over northern Chile.

(AP Photo/Marcos Brindicci)

The moon passes in front of the setting sun during a total solar eclipse in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, July 2, 2019. A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun and scores a bull's-eye by completely blocking out the sunlight.

(AP Photo/Esteban Felix)

The moon blocks the sun during a total solar eclipse in La Higuera, Chile, Tuesday, July 2, 2019. Northern Chile is known for clear skies and some of the largest, most powerful telescopes on Earth are being built in the area, turning the South American country into a global astronomy hub.

(Photo/Carol Wright, UK/@Cosmic_Carol)

The total solar eclipse seen from the La Silla Observatory in Chile.

(Photo/Gordon Telepun)

Clear skies along the ecliptic 45 minutes before the solar eclipse captured in South America.

(Photo/ Gordon Telepun)

Crescent captured two minutes before the solar eclipse over South America.

(Photo/ Gordon Telepun)

Just prior to totality, all that remains of the Sun are a few shafts of light shining through deep valleys on the lunar limb, known as Baily's beads.

(Photo/Gordon Telepun)

Totality captured over South America, when the Sun's photosphere is completely covered by the Moon.

(Photo/ Gordon Telepun)

The chromosphere phase of the solar eclipse. For a brief time after the start of totality, the Sun’s chromosphere remains visible along the solar edge still being covered by the advancing Moon.

(Photo/ Gordon Telepun)

Diamond ring after the third contact. A diamond ring occurs when only a single bead remains, which shines like a brilliant diamond set into a pale ring created by the pearly white corona surrounding the Moon’s black silhouette.


Using a colander to project the crescent sun.


(Photo/Juan María Elizalde)

The total solar eclipse as seen from Argentina on Tuesday evening.

(AP Photo/Esteban Felix)

People view a total solar eclipse from La Higuera, Chile, Tuesday, July 2, 2019. Tens of thousands of tourists and locals gaped skyward Tuesday as a rare total eclipse of the sun began to darken the heavens over northern Chile.


The shadow of the moon is visible in this GOES-West satellite imagery over the southern Pacific Ocean, just south of Hurricane Barbara.


A spectator looking at the sun and moon through a telescope that is equipped with the proper solar filter for safe viewing.



People in South America preparing for the total solar eclipse with solar glasses and solar filters.


The partial phase of the total solar eclipse through a layer of clouds.

The shadow of the moon began to traverse the southern Pacific Ocean around 2 p.m. EDT Tuesday and was clearly visible on weather satellite imagery.

The first place on the continent to see the total solar eclipse was La Serena, Chile, and the last place was just south of Buenos Aires, Argentina. However, clouds interfered with viewing the event from near Buenos Aires.

Totality lasted for a little more than 2 minutes for people that strategically placed themselves in this narrow area on Tuesday afternoon. Meanwhile, much of the balance of the continent witnessed a partial solar eclipse.

South America 2019 solar eclipse

A lot happened in the two to two-and-a-half minutes during totality. The temperature dropped. Bright stars and planets appeared in the darkened sky. Crickets started chirping. Street lights turned on. Animals acted differently. Looking down at the horizon reveled a 360-degree sunrise/sunset. Then just two minutes later, the first beams of light shined down as the moon gradually uncovered the sun, and everything began to return to normal.

eclipse map july 2 2019

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South America will also be home to the next total solar eclipse, set for Dec. 14, 2020.

People across North America pining to see a total solar eclipse arguably better than the Great American Eclipse of 2017 will need to wait until April 8, 2024.

2024 eclipse path

The eclipse coming in five years will not be visible coast-to-coast, but the path of totality, or area where the total eclipse is visible, will pass over several large metropolitan areas. This includes Dallas; Indianapolis; Cleveland; Buffalo, New York; and Montreal, Quebec. Because of this, it has the potential to become the most-observed and most-photographed solar eclipse of all time.

For more details about this eclipse, click here.

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