ESO observatory plans public solar eclipse event

Ticket sales and public outreach are beginning a year in advance.
By Laurel Kornfeld | Nov 15, 2018
The European Southern Observatory's (ESO) La Silla Observatory in Chile is organizing a public observation and outreach event for the total solar eclipse that will be visible at the site on July 2, 2019.

Visible against the background of the Chilean desert, the eclipse, whose path of totality will cover a 150-km area in northern Chile, corresponds with the observatory's 50th anniversary.

Thousands of people from around the world are expected to converge on the location to view the eclipse, which will occur during the late afternoon.

In conjunction with the observatory, the ESO is planning a variety of activities for other parts of the day, before and after the eclipse. Among these activities are talks, workshops, and tours of the La Silla telescopes.

A total of 300 tickets to the event, each costing 200 euros, will become available for purchase on the ESOshop website on Friday, July 13 beginning at 1 PM CEST.

Included in the ticket prices are transportation to and from the bottom of La Silla Mountain to the observatory, eclipse glasses, and access to all observatory activities and events on July 2.

"On that Tuesday in July 2019, the eyes of the world will turn to Chile, as the Moon will pass between the Earth and the Sun, blocking out the light of our Sun," said Claudio Melo, ESO representative in Chile. "Astronomy and the beauty of the pristine Chilean skies will be showcased to the entire world. as the rarity of the total eclipse will attract thousands of people, from both Chile and further afield, to the north of the country.

The majority of this eclipse occurs over the Pacific Ocean. It ends over Chile and Argentina, where viewers will experience nearly two minutes of totality. Weather prospects are uncertain, as July is winter in the Southern Hemisphere, a time prone to cloudy skies.

Several other observatories, including the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory, the Gemini Observatory, the SOAR Observatory, the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), Las Campanas Observatory, and the Giant Magellan Telescope Project, are working with ESO and La Silla Observatory, taking advantage of the eclipse to spark public interest in astronomy and science.

Working with the observatories toward this goal are the regional governments of Coquimbo and Atacama, various Chilean universities, and members of the worldwide science community.

A year-long public outreach campaign has begun, which will include exhibits, talks, emphasis on the need to protect dark skies, and school competitions in which the winner will be invited to observe the eclipse at La Silla.



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