Total Solar Eclipse

2019-07-02

Bella Vista, Argentina

Pre-Eclipse

As always, a few years before we started preparing the expedition. On this occasion the shadow of the Moon would pass through Chile and Argentina. After an exhaustive study of the climate of both regions, we opted for Argentina, since it had better weather statistics for the day of the eclipse, besides having a good network of roads to use in case clouds appear on the day of the eclipse . Luckily, we didn't have to use them. Our main observation area was centered in the vicinity of Bella Vista, a small town located a few kilometers from the Andes mountain range and the border with Chile.

June 23 : On this occasion I left alone for Argentina, flying from Madrid to Buenos Aires and then to Mendonza. 17 hours of trip without incident that I took advantage of for talks with some passengers about the eclipse. And as always, explaining to airport control workers why he washed so many cameras.

June 24 : I finally arrived in Mendoza with no time and from the airport a taxi directly to the house of a friend who lives there. After 15 years, we finally met again in person. The first day was to talk about how our lives and experiences were going. After meeting his lovely family (kids included) we went to get to know the city a bit. At night, dinner and bed.

June 25 : We get up early to take advantage of the day. The first of the day was to pick up the rental car, indispensable for the expedition. The rest of the day we would spend visiting places of interest. Our intention was to visit the Inca bridge and the Cacheuta Hot Springs. Unfortunately, due to the heavy snow that was days ago, the access road was cut a few kilometers from arriving, so we had to turn around. At least we didn't lose the day, because on the way back we stopped at the Potrerillos Lake. A beautiful lake through which we took a walk along one of its banks. Then we continue our way to the Termas de Cacheuta and we stick some baths in its hot springs. It is a luxury to be able to bathe outdoors in winter, surrounded by mountains. A small lunch and we return at sunset to Mendoza. At night I had an encounter with Roman, one of the members of the expedition that arrived on his own to Mendoza. We went to a mall to have dinner with the family and catch up. Then home and to bed.

June 26 : Today has been another intense day of emotions. In the morning we went to visit what they call " Altos Limpios " a beautiful field of dunes, semi hidden next to a road surrounded by a semi-desert landscape. When we arrived we entered the dunes and we were going through them and taking some pictures, just before a group of schoolchildren arrived. After a couple of hours enjoying the views and a pleasant climate we went to see if we found other dunes that were supposed to be bigger and more beautiful, but after driving more than an hour around the area, we did not find them and we returned to Mendoza city. At night I had the meeting with the rest of the group in a downtown restaurant. Greetings and eclipse conversations were the accompaniment of dinner.

June 27 : In the morning I went to the hotel of the rest of the group, we had a quick breakfast, before leaving in both cars to Mendoza with the lights of dawn. Shortly after noon we arrived in San Juan and after a short walk through the city we found a place to eat, where they did not serve a delicious grilled meal. The atmosphere of the eclipse was already more than evident and at each roundabout the great event was announced. We also saw several posters announcing the eclipse in the downtown streets of the city. Then we continue our way to " Villa San Agustín ", along the way we made several stops to review several of the points we had selected to observe the eclipse in the case of having to do it inside. At dusk we arrive at our destination. Villa San Agustín, a small town far from big cities and with impressive skies. After doing the Chek-in in the cabins, we went to the main street of the city, where we found a small place for dinner. Talking to the owner, they told us that many people were waiting for the eclipse, but that we were among the first to arrive. Sandwiches and hamburgers for dinner and then to the cabins, and precisely not to lie down but to take the photographic equipment and make an observation and astrophotography session. The sky was impressed. Although I had already seen the brightest stars since Mendonza, this was the first time in Argentina that I was under a dark and starry sky. Tonight we had a great challenge, since we had never aligned the mount in the southern hemisphere. Luckily, it didn't take long to align with the "Octant" and I began to take a few photos of deep sky, with a 250mm lens. Enough to give a couple of minutes of exposure to the photos. Except for a few small cirrus clouds near the horizon, the sky was clear and windless, so we enjoyed the photo shoot and a spectacular view of the Milky Way and the Magellanic clouds over the distant mountains. After a few hours of observation we picked up and about 3 in the morning we arrived back to the hotel to rest, since the next day a hard day of visits awaited us.

June 28 : We woke up soon, shortly before sunset, which we enjoyed from the cabins. After a modest breakfast we drive with the car to the natural park of "Ichigualasto" On our arrival we make a brief visit to the museum that they have at the entrance with some dinosaur and some fossil recreations. At 12h we begin our visit by car through the natural park that lasted about 3 hours. During the tour we made 5 stops in the most significant places of the park, El Valle Pintado, the Cancha de Bolas la Esfinge el Submarino and the red mountains. In each of the stops we were able to take some photographs and walks in the area always with a guide. One of the most interesting stops was a museum where they had the fossil of a dinosaur discovered on earth, as it had been found without modifying it at all. also a few meters from the museum there was another small fossil in the nearby rocks. In general a very productive visit and with beautiful views of the whole area. The highlight was that we went along dirt and dust roads that sometimes barely let us see the front of the vehicle. After the visit we go to our next location Villa Unión where we arrive at sunset to a rural house on the outskirts of the town. This would be our home the next two days. That same night we went to the outskirts of the city just a few hundred meters from the house to observe the night sky. We were disappointed a bit since although it is a small town far from large cities, it had moderate light pollution and from our location it did not allow us to enjoy the sky with all clarity.

June 29 : In the morning we went to explore the area on our own and after a very short drive we entered the Triassic canyon . A walking tour (although it is actually done in 4x4) where we enjoy beautiful views through the canyon and after even better views surrounded by mountains and rock formations. A walk that lasted more than 3 hours and that left us exhausted. We return to the hotel and then we move to the city center in search of a place to eat. Unfortunately it was all closed and we could only eat some donuts that were sold by some ladies in one part and then a couple of things in a kiosk that was open. After that we headed south a few kilometers in search of a place to observe the sky at night. We found a couple of places and returned to the hotel where we dined homemade food and just after dark we took the cars and headed about 15 km from the city, to get away from the light pollution and enjoy now if a really dark sky and again without No wind The observation is made in an area next to the road, but far enough away so that the lights of the cars do not bother us. This time we enjoyed a good photo shoot under a starry sky and barely some light in the north, but the southern area was completely dark enough to take our photos of the Milky Way the clouds of Magellan and other objects that were They escape us from the northern hemisphere. Not too late we returned to the hotel because it was starting to get pretty cold. Remember that here we are in the winter and it shows the cold.

June 30 : In the morning the group broke up and we went to San Juan to spend a few days there until the eclipse. Upon arriving in San Juan we went straight to the hotel to leave things, and quickly approached the auditorium to attend the Josep Masalles conference. A very entertaining talk explaining the importance of a total solar eclipse with an emotional and scientific look. Once the conference was over I could talk a few minutes with Josep and wish each other luck with the eclipse. As a surprise to me a few minutes before I had received an email from a guy who was following me on the YouTube channel and went there to meet me in person. It was an emotional moment where we chatted a little about the eclipse and took a picture together. Then I returned to the hotel now if, to take a good shower and then we went for a walk around the center and see the atmosphere of the eclipse, as there were several activities scheduled in the square with music and an astronomical observation organized by the government. The site was beautiful, it is a park with gardens and water where people gathered to walk and have tea. As a special there was a point where you could observe the Sun with a telescope, thanks to a local astronomical association and sold glasses to see the eclipse. While we were walking, I found a major surprise, since I was not expecting it at all. We met the TodoNoticias bus, which was doing the eclipse route and interviewing people. At the beginning we only met the technicians and we were telling them a little bit about our history to see the eclipse. We also found a very nice boy who worked for the press and accompanied us around the area for a while to take the walk. He kindly introduced us to those responsible for organizing the great event prepared to observe the eclipse in Bella Vista and also the observation of this night and the talks of these days. Another big surprise was yet to come. Our friend from the press told us that "José Bianco" (the famous meteorologist on Channel 13 and all news) was there and introduced him to us. I had the opportunity to talk to him for a minute and show him my appreciation for the work he does and the passion with which he relays these types of events. I have to say that on several occasions I have seen his eclipse broadcasts live and I was excited when I saw him in person. He told me that he was going to be there recording in the afternoon, so we made time walking around the park, until he made the live connection. Meanwhile, we met some guys from an astronomy association in Buenos Aires and we were chatting about the eclipse, our stories and how to photograph it. It was nice to meet so many fans that we came to see the same thing. Almost without realizing it, we saw that José Bianco began to prepare for the broadcast and like other dozens of curious we got around to watch. I could not imagine what would come next. While I was making the connection, he called me and asked me to approach the cameras to interview me. It was a surprise, because I did not expect it, and more so many people around. I guess he called me because he found it curious that people from Spain were going to see the eclipse and maybe it was a way of showing people what we do to be able to see a total solar eclipse, that way they can get an idea of ??what really impresses What is it. A few minutes before I warned Sonia to watch the webcast on the internet, because I was around there and the same thing came out of "refilón", but I couldn't imagine being interviewed live. Thanks to Sonia who was able to record the broadcast with the phone, I have the memory of the interview and I can show you. Again, take advantage and thank José Bianco for his kindness and for bringing this experience lived in first person to all of Argentina and the rest of the world. After the interview we return to the hotel for dinner. After dinner I went out again, this time alone, to attend astronomical observation, but being cloudy there was only one concert. Luckily, I took the opportunity to speak with the director of tourism of San Juan and those in charge of organizing the events related to the eclipse. Later, I met Matías, a boy who will come to record us on the day of the eclipse and who is known from Alejandra. We were arranging small details for the day of the eclipse about the type of shots, when to meet and stuff. Finally I went back to meet the boy in the press and he was doing an interview about the eclipse, my history hunting eclipses and my opinion about the San Juan region. He was also very kind and I had a good time talking with him, taking a walk and then on the terrace of a cafe.

July 1 : After a good American breakfast we took the car to go to Bella Vista and check all possible eclipse observation areas. We left early and it took about 4 hours to arrive, as we made several stops along the way, exploring possible observation points and discarding others. Some of them had to be discarded because of the strong wind in the area, others because apparently it could be stopped without problem, but then it turned out that they were private areas. Also during the tour we stop at a salt lake to take some pictures and to see it as a possible observation point of the eclipse. We made another couple of stops on the road to Bella Vista along the road and precisely two of those points were the ones we liked the most, since it was practically not windy, we could leave the car well parked and we had stunning views of the Andes Mountains. Anyway, we approached Iglesia and Bella Vista to see the eclipse observation area. We did not like it too much, because there was a lot of dust and there were other trees that took away our direct vision of the Andes. A negative side on our way was that we found a smashed truck off the road just before arriving at Bella Vista and it turned out that the driver had died in the accident, which happened only minutes before we arrived. In Bella Vista we looked for a place to eat something, and a villager showed us a house that prepared take-away food. We went there and they gave us a great roast chicken with salad which we ate at a roundabout just outside the city, next to a gas station. Once we had a full stomach, we returned to one of the observation points to wait for the time of the eclipse, just one day before, to check where the Sun was hiding and see what the weather conditions were. During the wait we saw that a lot of dust was rising in the area of ??Bella Vista, which could be a problem during the eclipse, since the dust exceeded the height of the Sun. There were also some clouds over the mountains in the northern part, somewhat away from where the eclipse would look, but we had to take into account if they appeared. Luckily they remained static for most of the afternoon and gradually receded. At the supposed hour of the totality we took some photos and started back to San Juan, also stopping at a couple of places to see the visibility of the eclipse in case of having to go back through the dust or clouds. We arrived at San Juan at night and had dinner at the hotel. That night we went to bed late, because we were reviewing the configurations of the cameras, computers and charging batteries. Finally we lie down and sleep about 4 or 5 hours.

Eclipse

Coordenadas de observacíon: 30° 26' 30.00" S 2m29.9s (Eclipse Total)
Altitud: 2071m
69° 09' 59.10" W 2m28.7s (Limbo lunar corregido)

Dentro de la umbra: 92.35%

magnitud al máximo:  1.01676

 
Ancho del camino: 142.6km relación de tamaño Sol/Luna : 1.03630 AT= 69.4s
Evento
Fecha
Hora (TU)
Altura
CL
Inico del eclipse parcial (C1):
02-07-2019
19:25:44.0
+23.5º
Inicio del eclipse total (C2):
02-07-2019
20:39:40.5
+11.7º
-2.1s
Máximo del eclipse:
02-07-2019
20:40:55.6
+11.4º
Fin del eclipse total (C3):
02-07-2019
20:42:10.3
+11.2º
-3.3s
Puesta de Sol
02-07-2019
21:33
+02.3º
Fin del eclipse parcial (C4):
02-07-2019
21:46:57.0
-00.8º

July 2 : Today is the big day. We got up early to see that we had everything ready and last reviewed the plan.

At 6:30 we were already having an American breakfast, which although at first we were not going to enjoy it because it was very early, finally there were many guests who requested it that they put it for everyone, but much earlier than usual. A good breakfast to gain strength for the day that awaits us. Chirag and I left the hotel early and still at night. We had met Matías (our photographer) but he was late and we finally found ourselves leaving San Juan. With the three of us in the car, we headed towards our observation point. The forecasts were good, it was clear and did not give any cloud for eclipse time. We took the road and started our 2 hour trip.

During the journey some cars were already visible and the road is that they had decided to get up early, just like us. As we reached the twilight we continued our way, after crossing some mountains and reaching a valley, we worried because it was very windy, so much that it was even about to overturn a truck and this wind was noticeable on the steering wheel that we had to hold it much stronger than usual. In addition, the low visibility sometimes even zero made us slow down the car, almost to stop it because of the huge dust caused by the wind. During the rest of the way the wind was less, although at all times it was blowing strong. Before arriving at our destination and with the Sun peeking behind the mountains illuminating the Andes we made a brief stop to take some photos. That's when we found that the wind was very annoying and cold. After the stop we continue to our observation point. There was much less wind, so we would definitely stay there. As we were doing very well in time, we approached to Iglesia area to check some of the locations that Roman gave us for possible observation points, after examining them we decided to return to ours, since it was the one we liked the most because we were protected from wind and with a wonderful view of the Andes and others with the main road very close in case you have to flee from the last minute clouds. We sent the coordinates to the rest of the team that was on the way, since they stayed in Barreal and you had more kilometers and travel time. For now we could only wait, since there was still a lot of time and thanks to the fact that there was no traffic we thought.

Sunrise
Chirag between the hill and the Andes
On the way to the chosen place
Trucks and cars start arriving more and more frequently

For a few hours we take advantage to rest. Walk around the area, take some pictures and eat and drink something. Time passed, our companions finally arrived. After some greetings we were told that you wanted to see some locations near Church. They left with the car and we stayed there. The plan was to say they found a better place they would tell us and if not, they would return with us. Finally, it was like that and after 2 hours they returned. By then I had already started unloading the material from the car and had begun to assemble. He had chosen a site a few tens of meters from the car on a small hill, overlooking the Andes and off the road. At this time there were some clouds on the southern horizon, although the rest of the team did not give it importance, I was worried and looking every two times to the clouds. Luckily they didn't seem to make much progress and they made it eastward, so it didn't look like they were going to reach us. Finally, it was, since they disappeared shortly after the bias began. The wind was also less and no longer bothered so much. However, what went further was the traffic that increased greatly in the minutes prior to the start of the eclipse. The long road that went to Bella Vista was packed with vehicles. While the laggards arrived, we had everything ready for the start of the eclipse.

Mounting the equipment and aligning the cameras before the eclipse.
Hundreds of vehicles pass the road, a few minutes before the eclipse begins.
The members of the expedition
Everyone in their place watching the eclipse

The first part of the eclipse was quiet, but it became very long. I no longer remembered how long the whole wait is made. During that time I was waiting to focus the cameras and the mount from time to time. I also took the opportunity to make some visits to my neighbors, since we had become somewhat separated from each other so as not to bother us. When we were above 50% dimming we took advantage of seeing the pinhole effect on the floor and our shirts. Little by little we were noticing a metallic color in the sky that announced the proximity of the whole. In the absence of 15 minutes it was time to prepare the rest of the cameras. Center the 350d, turn on the insta 360º, and start the recording of all the other cameras, so you don't forget any, you just had to remove the filters and the covers of the lenses that had no filters.

All ready!!!!!! The countdown to the beginning of the eclipse begins.
Chirag Upreti and I, ready for the eclipse to begin.
Watching the eclipse during the partial phase and the trucks that continue to pass.
Panoramic view enjoying the partial phase

The southwest horizon seemed to be darker and in the last minutes, almost without realizing it, the show began. T-2 minutes, filter removal and tripod adjustment so that everyone was aiming at the sun. T-1 minute and counting. The pulse accelerates and the sky begins to darken abruptly. The yellow tones are easily distinguished near the eastern horizon, over the mountains. The wind suddenly calms down as if the sky itself stole our breath a few seconds before the whole. It was time to scream and so it was. When the last rays of the Sun sneaked through the lunar valleys and the shadow loomed over the Earth we began to get carried away by our animal instinct and began to scream and jump in an attempt to show our set of emotions and feelings hardly quantifiable. Shadow Bands! Roman shouts. Although I did not see them at that time, they were easily visible on the ground. Venus, looks Venus! I shouted enthusiastically barely 2 seconds before the totality, and then ... Darkness came and became owner for two and a half minutes, during which we were enjoying the Sun and its crown reigning over the Andes mountain range that was in gloom The crown, although it was not very large, looked magnificent in the sky. Its brightness showed only some bright stars. At first glance I could only see a couple of stars from the constellation Orion, but in the photographs we have seen some more of the constellation of Gemini. These two and a half minutes of totality passed quickly, almost without giving us time to enjoy the wonderful spectacle. I had the right time to take some pictures, focus the cameras once and even take a picture with the eclipse with a camera that was about 15 meters away. It seems a long time, but it was not. What happens is that you make the most of it. Behind us we could also see Jupiter with the naked eye over the mountains we had behind us. The colors of the horizon were changing and moving. By the South the increase of light in the sky announced the end of the totality. So it was. A few seconds later, the first rays of sunlight reached our retinas again and illuminated the landscape around us. What surprised us most was the rise of light, fast and hard. Now it is possible to understand the so-called diamond ring. Although I have to say that its beauty falls very short with that definition. We could not believe it but the whole was over! We kept screaming and watching the landscape around us for a few seconds, before putting the filters back in the cameras. Again, looking around, the shadow bands appeared and the planet Jupiter was still shining on the mountains. We also looked at the partially eclipsed Sun and if we covered the photosphere with our finger, we could still see the innermost part of the crown. The landscape quickly brightened and the shadow of the Moon moved away from us in the northwest. Normally we like to enjoy the rest of the bias but as always happens, we are so upset that we talk to each other to share our experience and emotions.

Tony and Roman watching the eclipse
Minutes before the totality already begin to notice the "rare" colors and lowers the ambient brightness.
As the Totality approach, the colors of the horizon becomes more avid. In the background is Chirag Upreti with his photographic equipment ready!
Seconds before the second contact !!!
Diamond ring in the 2nd contact.
Just at the beginning of the totality you could see a couple of stars and the planet Venus just above the mountains.
Admiring the eclipse at the beginning of the totality
Snapshot of the totality from a single frame taken from the Gopro.
Observing the Totality !!!
Observing the Totality !!!
Oscar Martín during totality, with the Sun eclipsed over the Andes mountains
Composition of eclipse phases every 10 minutes approximately
Medium corona
Diamond ring during 3rd contact
Inner and medium corona photographed with the Rubinar 500
Earthshine The moon illuminated by the reflected light of the Earth. Actually the only time you can take a picture of the new Lua is on these occasions
Photo of the total eclipse, where you can see several stars of the constellation of Gemini.
My silhouette and ones of the Andes during the totality
3D image of the eclipse. wearing anaglyph glasses you can see how the Moon is closer than the solar corona.
Diamond ring during the 2nd contact.
Chromosphere a few seconds before the end of the totality
Chromosphere and diamond ring in the 3rd contact
360º view in the second contact (start of totality)
360º view at the maximum of the eclipse (half of the totality)
360º view in the third contact (end of totality)
360º image during totality

Normally we like to enjoy the rest of the partial phase,but as always happens, we are so upset that we talk to each other to share our experience and emotions.

A few seconds after finishing the whole while replacing the filters in the cameras. And matías recording the video.
When the whole thing is over my face says it all, hahaha
During the last part of the eclipse came the round of congratulations and comments among those attending this great show. Our happy faces say it all.

For the rest of the partial phase I still had the focus of focusing the video camera and the mount while taking a look at the eclipse with the glasses. Before finishing the eclipse, many people left Bella Vista, something we could see when looking towards the road. Hundreds of cars and coaches took the road back while we continued with the eclipse. Little by little the Sun was approaching the mountains until it finally reached them and we had a beautiful sunset over the Andes, even with the Sun partially eclipsed. It was the finishing touch for this great day.

A beautiful image of the great sunset behind the Andes with the Sun still eclipsed.
Sun eclipsed during sunset, behind the Andes mountains
Sunset eclipsed over the Andes

Just when the sun went down, a strong and annoying wind began to blow again. Luckily we had it at the end of the eclipse, because otherwise we would have spoiled many of the images. With the wind as a witness, we began to collect all the equipment and in just under an hour we were ready to take the road back to San Juan. The first part of the tour was more or less fast and without much traffic, but about 50 km before reaching San Juan we found the eclipse jam. We were standing on the road for about an hour, advancing a few meters every 2 or 3 minutes. Finally near San Juan, the traffic improved and we were able to make the last journey at a normal speed.

Tired of the long day we had, we went to the hotel and after uploading a couple of photos to social networks we went to sleep.

Stories of the expedition members

(R)

P

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(R)

H

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Post-Eclipse

03 de Julio: Uspallata

04 de Julio: Uspallata, mirador Aconcagua y puente del Inca

05 de Julio: Despedida y Regreso a Mendoza.

06 de Julio: Perdida del vuelo

07 de Julio: Vuelo a Buenos Aires y hacia Madrid.

Our trip in photos

 

The video

 

 

Credits

The photographs are courtesy of their authors as stated in the same. Reproduction without express written permission of the author is prohibited. In the photographs where the author does not indicate, they correspond to Oscar Martín Mesonero

 

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