As a rare total solar eclipse falls on Tuesday, the day will convert into total darkness along a stretch of the South Pacific, Chile.
Most of the 6,800-mile path is over the open ocean, where the moon will extinguish sunlight for a whopping four minutes, 33 seconds. By the time the shadow makes landfall on the Chilean coast, the duration of totality will be trimmed by a full two minutes.
In Chile and Argentina, the moon’s shadow will sweep in at speeds topping 6,000 mph, much faster than the “Great American Eclipse” in 2017. That means the premature nightfall will be faster. With the transition from day to night could take as little as 30 seconds.
The swiftly moving shadow will spread across South America in just four minutes coast to coast, plunging below the horizon as the sun sets near Buenos Aires.
While the potential for cloudy skies characteristic of Southern Hemisphere winters sparked initial concerns, Tuesday’s forecast looks to be purely stellar. The total eclipse, when the sun is completely covered, begins at 4:38 pm local time (20:38 UT). Large crowds of eclipse travelers have gathered in the La Serena area, where they can expect to witness two minutes and 17 seconds of darkness during totality.