A total solar eclipse will occur on July 11, 2010. Tourists and inhabitants on Easter Island (Rapa Nui or Isla de Pascua) and other small islands in the southern Pacific Ocean, as well as in southern Argentina and Chile in South America, will have the chance to witness this eclipse.
It is anticipated that this solar eclipse could bring record tourist or visitor numbers to Easter Island to experience the solar eclipse.
Will the Eclipse be Visible?
The total solar eclipse on July 11, 2010, will be an interesting solar eclipse because while it tracks across the South Pacific, apart from passing over a small island, it does not touch land until sunset. Therefore, those wishing to witness this eclipse on mainland southern Argentina and Chile will see it during the moments when the sun goes down.
However, tours and cruises have been organized to witness the eclipse on Easter Island and other places in the Pacific Ocean where the eclipse will be visible. It is expected that these tours and cruises will fill quickly for this special event. Apart from Easter Island, the eclipse will also be visible in places such as Mangaia (Cook Islands) and Wellington Island, which is off the coast of Chile. The path of totality ends after reaching southern Chile and Argentina. The moon’s penumbral shadow produces a partial eclipse visible from a large region covering the South Pacific and southern South America.
The Start of the Eclipse’s Path
The central eclipse path begins in the South Pacific about 700 kilometers (about 435 miles) southeast of Tonga at 18:15 Universal Time (UT). Traveling northeast, the track misses Rarotonga (Cook Islands) by about 25 kilometers (about 16 miles). The first landfall occurs at Mangaia where the total eclipse lasts three minutes and 18 seconds with the sun is 14 degrees above the horizon. The southern coast line of French Polynesia’s Tahiti lies about 20 kilometers (about 12 miles) north of the eclipse path and experiences a deep 0.996 magnitude partial eclipse at 18:28 UT.
Greatest Eclipse Occurrence
Greatest eclipse occurs in the South Pacific at 19:33:31 UT. At this instant, the axis of the moon’s shadow passes closest to earth’s center. The maximum duration of totality is five minutes and 20 seconds at the point of greatest eclipse. The sun’s altitude is 47 degrees and the path width is 259 kilometers (about 161 miles). The greatest eclipse occurs away from land – about halfway between New Zealand and South America.
Continuing across the Pacific, the umbral shadow’s path meets Easter Island, an overseas territory of Chile. Easter Island is located about 3600km west of Chile’s mainland port of Caldera. From the capital, Hanga Roa, totality lasts four minutes and 41 seconds, with the sun being 40 degrees above the horizon at 20:11 UT. This moment provides a photo opportunity for eclipse chasers, who will have the chance to capture the island’s famous stone statues in front of a solar eclipse.
Eclipse’s Final Moments
The moon’s shadow sweeps across another 3700 kilometers (about 2299 miles) of ocean waters before making its final landfall along southern Chile at 20:49 UT. Wellington Island, which is an island west of Chile’s coast, experiences two minutes and 46 seconds of totality, with the sun just a few degrees above the horizon.
Farther inland, the Argentinean town of El Calafate sees two minutes and 47 seconds, with the sun setting just as totality ends. The path ends in southern Argentina when the umbra slips off the earth’s surface as it returns to space (20:52 UT).The next total solar eclipse will not occur until November 13, 2012.