Total solar eclipse wows crowds in Latin America

Thousands of people who turned up in the Chilean region of La Araucania to witness the rare experience of a total solar eclipse were not left disappointed, with poor weather doing little to dampen their excitement.

Despite the limited visibility due to cloudy skies, the large crowds – who donned their face masks to limit the spread of COVID-19 – were able to watch the moon black out the sun, plunging daytime into darkness.

Many jumped and shouted in the rain when the sun was totally covered by the moon, followed by moments of silence afterwards and then more screams and cheering when the sun re-appeared.

Diego Fuentes, who had travelled with his family to see the eclipse, said: “It was worth the two minutes.”

Another onlooker, Catalina Morales, said she “liked it a lot”, adding: “It was good that there were clouds because we could see it a little without glasses.”

Her father Cristian described it as “spectacular, a unique experience”.

During the brief period of darkness, the only light was that from people’s mobile phones.

There were some similarly impressive views in other Latin American countries, including Argentina, as well as in some African nations and above parts of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

But the best images came from Chile, where the next total solar eclipse is not due for another 28 years.

The indigenous Mapuche people from La Araucania traditionally believe that the total eclipse signals the temporary death of the sun after a battle with the moon – and what follows is a series of negative events.

Diego Ancalao, member of a Mapuche community and head of an Indigenous foundation that promotes development, noted that a July 2019 eclipse was followed by civil unrest in Chile and later the COVID-19 pandemic.

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