#astronomy Totality in 2020: A Report from Patagonia

December 15, 2019 - Comment

Take a look at the viewing web site and preparations in Argentina’s lush Lake District for Sky & Telescope’s expedition to witness the full photo voltaic eclipse on December 14, 2020. In terms of planning for a complete photo voltaic eclipse, I am reminded of the real-estate mantra “Location, Location, Location.” Again in August 2017,


Take a look at the viewing web site and preparations in Argentina’s lush Lake District for Sky & Telescope’s expedition to witness the full photo voltaic eclipse on December 14, 2020.

In terms of planning for a complete photo voltaic eclipse, I am reminded of the real-estate mantra “Location, Location, Location.” Again in August 2017, selecting the place to see “America’s Eclipse” was a snap — you could possibly select from actually hundreds of viewing websites alongside a 2,500-mile-long path from Oregon to South Carolina.

However the pickings had been undoubtedly slimmer final July, when the Moon’s shadow tracked throughout the Southern Hemisphere and made its major landfall solely in Chile and Argentina. (Our S&T tour had a superb view from El Molle, Chile.)

Chile-Argentina eclipse path in 2020

When it crosses South America on December 14, 2020, the Moon’s shadow will solely be about 90 km (55 miles) extensive.
Xavier Jubier

And tight logistical constraints will once more apply on December 14, 2020 — precisely one yr from immediately — when the subsequent complete photo voltaic eclipse takes place. As soon as once more, Chile and Argentina would be the locations of selection for hundreds of “umbraphiles” from around the globe.

For its land-based eclipse tour, Sky & Telescope has chosen a web site close to San Martín de los Andes in Argentina’s Patagonia area. This location is on the east aspect of the towering Andes, not removed from the border with Chile. As demonstrated by the historic cloud statistics amassed by eclipse-weather professional Jay Anderson, this stretch of the umbral path gives a wonderful probability of cloud-free skies on eclipse day.

I’ve simply returned from a site-inspection journey to our Patagonia location, and this submit gives some insights on what I discovered there.

Rose in San Martín de los Andes

Rose bushes line the sidewalks in San Martín de los Andes.
J. Kelly Beatty / Sky & Telescope

All the things’s Rosy in San Martín

It is a pity that San Martín de los Andes itself doesn’t lie immediately within the Moon’s path of totality (December’s eclipse might be 99½% complete there). This charming city of about 25,000 is nestled alongside the japanese shore of Lake Lácar. It sits in a U-shaped valley gouged out by historical glaciers, providing a place to begin for the scenic Seven Lakes Highway that extends southward to Bariloche and passes by three nationwide parks.

Through the austral winter, San Martín is filled with skiers heading for the close by slopes of Cerro Chapelco, whose summit is 1,980 meters (6,500 ft) above sea degree. Through the peak summer season months of January and February, it is a widespread trip vacation spot for households making an attempt to flee the clamor of Buenos Aires. Not far to the north is majestic, snow-covered Lanín, a traditional cone-shaped stratovolcano that towers 2,624 m (eight,609 ft) into the sky and dominates the area’s western horizon.

Not surprisingly, San Martín gives a wealthy number of mountain sports activities (climbing, biking, and snowboarding), and I used to be tempted to hire a mountain bike whereas there to discover extra of the city’s neighborhoods. Rose bushes line the downtown sidewalks that move in entrance of colourful retailers and eating places.

Patagonia Plaza exterior

The Patagonia Plaza in San Martín de los Andes.
J. Kelly Beatty / S&T

Our tour group’s resort is the nice and cozy and welcoming Patagonia Plaza, a meticulously maintained property that is simply brief stroll from the lakefront. This can function our “base camp” for the eclipse.

To achieve the trail of totality, my native guides and I traveled 1½ hours northeastward from San Martín alongside Route 40. We handed by the hamlet of Junín de los Andes, which is famend worldwide amongst fly-fishing fanatics. (Peter Tyson, S&T’s editor-in-chief and this tour’s chief, is considered one of them — he is been to this area twice.) I used to be struck by all of the navy personnel stationed in Junín; starting within the 1880s it served as a key Military outpost, however immediately its troopers spend a lot of their time at checkpoints at Chilean border crossings.

S&T’s Viewing Web site

This a part of Argentina (Neuquén Province) is sparsely populated, with huge tracts of wide-open and sometimes inaccessible land. We had been lucky to safe a non-public viewing location that is proper on the centerline, providing 2m 9s of totality.

Patagonia viewing site panorama

Here is a 360° view of Sky & Telescope’s unique viewing web site in Patagonia for the full photo voltaic eclipse on December 14, 2020. Letters point out cardinal instructions. (Click on on the picture for a bigger view.)
J. Kelly Beatty / Sky & Telescope

Because the composite picture above exhibits, the positioning is a grass-covered pasture surrounded by low hills. (Little question some tour members will arrange on the close by hills for extra panoramic views.) It’s going to be an awesome vantage level for watching the shadow’s strategy from the west-northwest and its departure towards east-southeast.

In contrast to final July’s occasion, throughout which the Solar’s corona glowed dramatically not far above the western horizon in late afternoon, this time the cover-up happens round 1 p.m. native time with eclipsed Solar almost overhead. In actual fact, totality’s neck-straining 72° altitude might be considerably difficult to , so plan accordingly!

I had an opportunity to satisfy the rancher who has owned this property for a lot of a long time. He is a personable man who has entry to a long time of climate knowledge for this area. I do not wish to jinx our possibilities by citing specifics — however let’s simply say that I got here away from our assembly buoyed by the statistical probability of clear skies on December 14, 2020.

My journey ended far too quickly, and sadly I might be elsewhere on eclipse day. However I am trying ahead to returning — with a telescope for positive and possibly even with a rod and reel for a bit of fly-fishing!



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