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Success – a Glorious Eclipse!

Posted by on July 12, 2010

Picked up our rental car – a Chevy – and Daniel from the airport around midday, after a brief panic as the Hertz stand was unmanned. On the way back suddenly the country started coming alive with animals. Rheas, Guanicoes, and some Condors!

After dropping Daniel’s stuff off we had a couple of hours before first touch, so headed around to find a good viewing spot. Picked one high above the lake, and did some calculations and decided it would be as good as any.

Popped down into town for some snacks and coffees, noted the football (the world cup final was just starting), and bought some celebratory beers in preparation. About this time some clouds were starting to appear again on the horizon, and some stray dogs were taking an interest in our food so we headed back up the hill.

The sun was on its way towards the horizon, and we kept taking rule-of-thumb measurements and started to worry. Those Andes sure do take up some of the horizon. 4.44pm and on cue first touch started. Looking through glasses we could see the moon starting to cover the bottom left. Our hands were freezing in the icy wind – and in front of the town below the massive ice flow was indicative of just how cold it was.

Left and right cameras started failing – batteries do NOT do well in this sort of cold. I went to unfold my lightweight travel tripod and it snapped clean through in my hands – quite poor timing really, given the imminent eclipse!

45 minutes passed and it got colder and colder and the light started doing weird things. It becomes quite eerie as the eclipse reaches 70-80%, with a pale sort of light, but you still can’t see the moon if you look directly at the sun; an indication of just how bright the sun really is!

A few minutes later and at 5.48pm we started cheering as the diamond ring appeared and the eclipse hit totality! About 2.5 minutes of totality, and about 20 seconds in the sun started to set – it was that close. Spectacular view of the corona, and the general view around was fantastic, with Mercury, Mars, Venus and Saturn visible among the planets, as well as Sirius and Procyon.

2.5 minutes later and the sky started getting light again, which was quite weird to see as you saw the sun setting in front of your eyes, and the world getting brighter and stars vanishing.

Into the car and a celebratory drink, and I could look at the HD video I took with my new Panasonic. I was still a little frustrated at the lack of photos I managed given the lack of the tripod, but the video turned out brilliantly.

We headed back to the hostel and swapped viewing stories with the others, and heard on the news that Easter Island received some cloud, making El Calafate the best place in the world to see it – we were in the right spot, after all that!

Went out for dinner at a restaurant named Casablanca – had some fantastic food – starting to really like the Argentinian steak.

Started planning the next phase of the journey up north, but it’s looking really difficult to get anywhere without taking the bus, or forking out a small fortune for a 21 hour flight just to get out of Argentina. Will regroup in the morning – we’re off to the Perito Morena glacier, which is looking to be quite spectacular!

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4 Responses to Success – a Glorious Eclipse!

  1. Pam

    Enjoy each moment, what a special time!

  2. Shiv

    That is Awesome Mate!! Now on to your Country count …

  3. Baken

    Nice that you got a good view! We loved the Argentinian steak. Did you try the lamb cooked by asador?

    • marksmayo

      Had Asado steak yesterday, but twas beef, not lamb. Will have to keep an eye out for the cordero on the menu 😉

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