Chilean clouds, coronavirus mar outlook for solar eclipse sightseer

SANTIAGO (Reuters) – Tourists in central Chile hoping for a total solar eclipse were disappointed on Monday as thick fog rolled in along the coast and rain clouds obscured the sky.

More than 100,000 tourists had traveled to the sea villages of Pucon and Villarica, according to official reports, although the number of COVID-19 cases in Chile had increased recently.

The moon is said to completely cover the sun over a narrow 90 km long ribbon of South America, which extends from Saavedra, a port city in the central Chilean Pacific, to Salina del Eje on the Atlantic coast of Argentina, showing Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

“More or less 45 friends came by bus – with all the (health) measures available to us,” said Gloria Orellana, an Eclipse fanatic who hoped to watch the event from the safety of her cabin near Villarica to be able to.

But rain and clouds had wiped out the sun in the mountainous, heavily forested region of south-central Chile, giving the best view of those in the drier north of Chile, where only a partial solar eclipse can be seen.

The moon is expected to begin its path across the sun at around 11:38 a.m. local time (1438 GMT), and the total solar eclipse will begin in Saavedra at 1:00 p.m. (1600 GMT).

Although the spectacle is unlikely to be seen across Chile, the eclipse will still plunge the region into complete darkness. Such events rarely occur in a specific location around the world.

Chile experienced another full solar eclipse in its northern desert in July 2019, the first in that region since 1592, according to the Chilean Astronomy Society.

Coverage by Dave Sherwood and Reuters TV; Adaptation by Alexander Smith