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The Sun and Moon are lining up for one of nature’s most impressive shows early tomorrow: a total solar eclipse. It’ll be visible only along a narrow path in the southern hemisphere.
An eclipse occurs when the new Moon passes directly between Earth and the Sun, blocking the Sun from view. Most months, the geometry isn’t right, so the new Moon passes above or below the Sun. This time, though, everything is in alignment, creating an eclipse.
The eclipse gets under way at 7:34 a.m. Central Time, when the outer portion of the Moon’s shadow first touches Earth. That creates a partial eclipse — the Moon will cover only part of the Sun. The partial eclipse will be visible across most of South America and part of Antarctica.
The total eclipse begins two hours later. It will be visible along a path that begins over the Pacific Ocean, passes over Chile and Argentina, and extends into the Atlantic Ocean. It comes to an end just short of Africa.
At most, the path of totality will be just 56 miles wide. That’s where day turns to night, and the Sun’s faint outer atmosphere surrounds the Moon. The total phase of the eclipse will last only about two minutes.
During most eclipses, people flock to the eclipse path, and cruise lines organize special expeditions. With the coronavirus, though, that’s not the case this year — far fewer people will see it in person. But several web sites will broadcast this impressive light show.
Script by Damond Benningfield