Last December 14, a solar eclipse was observed in continental Chile, whose total band covered the regions of La Araucanía, Los Ríos and Biobío (Mocha Island). To transmit it to the world from the south of the country, Las Campanas Observatory, together with the Carnegie Institution for Science and the Institute of Astrophysics at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, moved to the Araucanía Region to carry out an inclusive streaming of this astronomical phenomenon, designed so that visually impaired people could also enjoy this moment.
The transmission was made from the Villarrica Volcano, in the commune of Pucón (Province of Cautín), at an altitude of more than 1400 meters.
This eclipse completely obscured the Araucanía Region and surrounding areas, being also partially visible throughout the country, but unfortunately, much of the entire area was completely cloudy. However, the particularity of the transmission made by Las Campanas Observatory is that, despite the bad weather in the area, it allowed the phenomenon to be heard, thanks to the light sounding device known as LightSound.
The LightSound was donated to the Chilean community by Harvard University and the International Astronomical Union, and this year it was replicated in our country by the Chilean Inclusive Astronomy group. With this, a unique moment in science and astronomy came within reach of thousands of people.
The moon completely covered the solar disk at 13:03 hours, for 2 minutes 8 seconds, as seen from the transmission area. At that time, the temperature decrease was about 4 degrees Celsius. “Despite the clouds and rain, we all feel that recollection of a natural astronomical event that goes beyond our daily experience”, says Dr. Leopoldo Infante, director of Las Campanas Observatory.
From the beginning of 2020, the Las Campanas Observatory joined the institutions present in Chile that seek to make astronomy a science for the entire population, one hundred percent inclusive in all its aspects.
“In our efforts to be inclusive, so that everyone can experience the greatness of our natural world, we saw this eclipse as an opportunity to reach out to the blind through the LightSound. We are happy with this contribution, however small, but it makes us great as a humanity”, emphasizes Infante.
The event was led by the Institute of Astrophysics UC and counted with the collaboration of Las Campanas Observatory (Carnegie Institution for Science), the Municipality of Pucón, Pucón TV, the regional channel network Arcatel, Astronomía Inclusiva and the Fundación Pequeñas Grandes Estrellas.
Las Campanas Observatory was also part of the “Curious Eclipse Kit” initiative of the inclusive Dedoscopio project. Thanks to this initiative, 140 kits were sent to visually impaired people and their families living in 13 municipalities of Araucania and Los Rios.
In addition, Las Campanas Observatory disseminated capsules in social networks with the purpose of explaining various aspects related to solar eclipses, such as the science that can be done with them, the generation of energy on the Sun, the history of total solar eclipses in Chile and the initiatives of inclusive astronomy carried out in the country. Currently, an audiovisual production is being prepared that will bring together all these capsules and will include the perceptions of the event held in Pucón.
The image illustrating the note was taken on July 2, 2019, by Polish astronomer Radek Poleski of the OGLE team.