South America

Solar eclipse plunges Chile into darkness


Chile's chrystal-clear skies have given astronomers and tourists gathered in the desert a spectacular view of a total solar eclipse.

Hundreds of thousands of tourists have gathered in the north Chilean desert to experience a rare combination for astronomy buffs: a total eclipse of the sun viewed from beneath the world's clearest skies.

Eclipse-watchers in Chile were not disappointed, when a 150km band of total darkness moved eastward across the Pacific Ocean, making landfall in Chile on Tuesday afternoon.

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun, plunging the planet into darkness.

The best views were from Chile's sprawling Atacama desert north of the coastal city of La Serena, where a lack of humidity and city lights combine to create the world's clearest skies.

In the capital of Santiago, office workers poured from buildings to catch a glimpse of the

"This is something rare that we may never see again," said Marcos Sanchez, a 53-year-old pensioner from Santiago.

The region had not seen an eclipse since 1592, according to the Chilean Astronomy Society. The next one is expected in 2165.

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