A dark and dramatic total solar eclipse with a massive display of ‘shadow bands’
Is there anything better than sharing a sparkling totality with a band of other eclipse-chasers? A group of 70+ from all over the globe gathered in Vicuna in Chile’s Elqui Valley were rewarded with 100% clear skies and some unusually dramatic sights as the Sun was eclipsed in the northwest sky just above mountains.
“It was such a classic, exquisite eclipse. It had everything!” said WhenIsTheNextEclipse.com editor and Forbes Science journalist Jamie Carter, who led the team from Grand American Adventures and watched from an exclusive hotel in Vicuna. “It got really cold, and just before totality, there was intense darkness. A flock of burrowing parrots screeched and dogs barked, and there was even a police siren!”
Perhaps the most unexpected sight was “shadow bands” both before and after totality. “I took a white sheet to catch some shadow bands, if they were there, but in the end, I looked pretty stupid because the entire tennis court we watched from was a canvas for wave after wave of shadow bands just before and just after totality,” said Carter. “I’ve never seen them before so intensely. It was incredible!”
So what about totality itself? “It was beautifully clear and crisp, with a slight blueish tinge to both stunning diamond rings,” said Carter. The corona itself was much as predicted – fairly small – but with incredible texture around the north and south poles of the Sun. “There were also a few “prominences”, explosions on the Sun’s surface, with one big one in particular at 9 o’clock,” said Carter. “As totality began there were many whoops of excitement, including from me, but mine was one of relief that we got to see it … after all, it’s winter down here.”
As the Sun returned there was a round of applause and a mass outbreak of tears and hugging as the power of the eclipse turned the tennis court into the most special place on the planet. “To share this incredible eclipse with 70 others – many of them seeing their first totality – was really really special,” said Carter, who had spent many hours studying weather reports and sight-lines in preparation, and who had given a pre-eclipse lecture in the days leading up to the big event. “After that second gorgeous diamond ring, I just couldn’t hold it together. This one hit me hard. It was the perfect spot and the perfect eclipse experience.”
This is why we chase eclipses, and why we’re going to do it all again (and again and again), next time in Argentina on December 14, 2020. Join us!
Pic credits: Gill Carter & Jamie Carter WhenIsTheNextEclipse.com