December 03, 2021 #ChileDiverse

Team led by Chilean astrophysicist to study total solar eclipse in Antarctica

Accessibility settings

The astronomical phenomenon of this December 4 will be the second documented from the White Continent, and will not occur again until 2039.

The researchers from the University of Chile who will study the total solar eclipse that will be visible this December 4 in Antarctica at 04:00 hours of continental Chile are already installed at the Joint Scientific Polar Station Glacier Union. The team is led by the Chilean astrophysicist Patricio Rojo and is also composed of the doctor in Atmospheric Sciences René Garreaud and the doctoral student Nitya Pandey.

Scientists moved astronomical instruments to the field to obtain a good record of the phenomenon that will last about two hours, but the total coverage time will be 46 seconds. Cameras, lenses, spectrographs and atmospheric sensors will make it possible to record the event, which will not occur again until 2039.

Patricio Rojo, PhD in Astrophysics and director of the Department of Astronomy at the University of Chile, is one of the three Chileans who have an asteroid named after them. This select group is made up of Mario Hamuy and José Maza, both recognized with the National Exact Sciences Award. Pato Rojo comments that this will be the fifth total solar eclipse that he will witness. He was in Shanghai in 2009, in Easter Island in 2010, in Coquimbo in 2019 and in La Araucanía in 2020.

"In 2003, the first expedition was made in which an eclipse was observed from Antarctica and measurements were taken at ground level. There have been no other eclipses in the area so far, so this will be the second opportunity to measure and take atmospheric data. We are going with instruments and sensors to take measurements at different heights above ground level", says the astronomer.

The particularity of measuring the total solar eclipse from Antarctica highlights the value of the Antarctic territory for science in a multiplicity of disciplines, including in this case Astronomy. The Chilean Antarctic Institute (Inach) conducts annual expeditions to Antarctic bases to carry out various scientific studies and position the polar territory as a natural laboratory for the study of climate change.

"Global warming occurs mainly in polar regions. There is superficial melting of the ice", explains Marcelo Leppe, director of Inach. Through scientific expeditions, the organization seeks to encourage the development of scientific, technological and innovation research in Antarctica, as well as to promote the Magallanes Region as a gateway to the White Continent and to disseminate knowledge of Antarctic matters to the general public.


Image of Chile