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Total solar eclipse 2020: NOAA captures stunning footage of rare space event

The extremely rare event was a special sight from Earth, but looked even better from space.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)‘s National Weather Service has released captivating footage of the only total solar eclipse for 2020 seen from from space.

Thousands of people gathered in the Chilean region of La Araucania to witness the solar eclipse, rejoicing in the rare experience despite limited visibility because of cloudy skies.

Skies were clear in northern Patagonia in Argentina, where people also watched the moon briefly block out the sun and plunge daytime into darkness.

But arguably it was the NOAA’s Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite East satellite that captured the best view of the solar eclipse.

The stunning satellite images show a dark red shadow follow the moon.

The solar eclipse occurs when the moon moves between with the sun and Earth, creating a shadow over Earth.

For people where the umbra, the moon’s shadow, falls, the sun is blocked out by the moon.

For people where the penumbra, which is the area outside of the moon’s shadow, falls, they are able to see part of the sun.

This morning’s solar eclipse was the first, last and only total solar eclipse of 2020.

Total solar eclipse wows in Latin America

Many people wore masks to curb the spread of COVID-19, though they crowded together in some places in Pucon and in other areas of La Araucania, 700km south of Santiago, the Chilean capital.

“It was worth the two minutes,” witness Diego Fuentes, who traveled south with his family to see the eclipse, said.

“I liked it a lot and it was good that there were clouds because we could see it a little without glasses,” said Catalina Morales, a girl who watched with her father, Cristian Morales.

He described it as “spectacular, a unique experience.”

Solar eclipse in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on December 14, 2020.
Solar eclipse in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on December 14, 2020. Credit: NurPhoto/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Thousands jumped and shouted happily in the drizzle when the sun was completely covered by the moon and then silence descended for a few moments.

People again screamed and whooped excitedly when the sun appeared again.

During the brief period of darkness, only the lights of mobile phones were visible.

People observe the solar eclipse over South America
Skies were clear in northern Patagonia, where people watched the moon briefly block out the sun. Credit: REUTERS

About 500,000 people of the Mapuche ethnic group live in La Araucania and traditionally believe the eclipse signals the momentary death of the sun after a fight with the moon and leads to negative fallout.

Community member and head of an Indigenous foundation that promotes development Diego Ancalao noted a total solar eclipse in July 2019 was followed by civil unrest in Chile and the coronavirus pandemic.

Experts said the eclipse was partly visible in several other Latin American countries, parts of Africa and the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

The next total solar eclipse in Chile is expected to occur in 28 years.

Another is expected to be visible in Antarctica by the end of 2021.

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