More than two thousand visitors crowded small Camarones city in Chubut for an unforgettable show yesterday. Some clouds kept everyone holding their breath wondering whether the full annular eclipse would be visible. But alas! At exactly 10:42:54, it all happended. The ring of fire seemed a true flaming ring thanks to wisps of clouds sweeping across.
The crowd chattering died away for a few seconds and burst into applause at the magnificent cosmic sight.
[Please see photo captions at the end of this report]
And children brought home memories for a lifetime. Thanks to Astronomers without Borders and the generosity of many donors, hundreds of families enjoyed the eclipse at no risk for their eyes. They happily shared the glasses with each other as the eclipse progressed and their faces were another show to see.
An unusual morning
Even one hour before the eclipse appointed time, visitors came to Plaza del Torreón in Camarones. Sitting next to the beach, this beautiful plaza is a historical landmark. El Torreón, a short tower capped by a Christian Cross, marks the place where Spanish explorers first attempted (unsuccessfully), a settlement in 1535.
Large, thick clouds and a light breeze covered the Sun for a while, but as the eclipse time came near, the bigger clouds drifted away,
Meanwhile, members of the Fundación "Amigos de la Astronomía" (a non-profit foundation from Trelew city), set up various telescopes. They were also joined by a team from Óptica Saracco, who also brought Celestron telescopes for public use.
Next to us, amateur astronomers also got ready with their equipment. We had amateurs visiting from Brazil, Perú, Colombia and many other regions within Argentina.
National and local media were there or called to learn what was happening.
Nearby, with the help of Camarones Tourism Office, we distributed the AWB glasses to visitors. Withiun minutes a long line formed, and, even though we gave one pair per family, they were soon gone. Happily, local authorities had brought some welder's glasses and amateurs were happy to share what they had: I even saw a few skimmers producing beautiful, multiple images of the eclipsed Sun!
The place soon became a real party, with music filling in the air, only to be interrupted by my comments to keep eyes safe.
A report came to me that the temperature dropped 2 degrees Celsius during the annular phase, as the landscape turned ghostly and surreal.
In Trelew, the eclipse could not be fully seen. Some time before annularity, heavy clouds followed by rain prevented to enjoy the full show. Yet, I was told they had a good time and enjoyed what they could see.
I need to express a deep sense of gratitude to Mike Simmons and Zoe Chee from Astronomers without Borders for working so hard on this project.
There is many, many other people to give thanks to, but let me acknowledge here:
> Every international donor for contributing through Fiat Physica into this campaign. Your contribution helped make it a big success!
> Rainbow Symphony for supplementing that campaign so that more solar glasses could be given.
> Optica Saracco, Celestron representative in Argentina, for donating a telescope to the Trelew Astronomical Center and bringing valuable aid into the show.
> Micaela Siarez and her colleagues at the Camarones Tourism Office.
Summary of solar glass distribution:
1,000 were received by Fundación Amigos de la Astronomía. The rest remained in Esquel to be used in another site.
Of those we received, 100 went to the observation site in Sarmiento, 200 were distributed in Trelew, and the remaining 700 were given in Camarones.
Photo captions (top to bottom)
All photos courtesy of Aníbal Aguaisol and Fundación Amigos de la Astronomía.
1. Annular eclipse from Camarones
2. Children wearing AWB solar glasses are ready for the big event.
3. Skimmer's eclipse.
4. Having fun with different safe solar glasses.
5. Myself, telling visitors what is going on and giving advice on observations.
6. The eclipse team: members of Amigos de la Astronomía (eclipse shirt), and staff from the Tourism Office (Municipality of Camarones). Standing left, Federico Abbondio, from the Chubut Ministry of Science and Technology.