As the shadow of the moon moved swiftly over the surface of the United States, along a line that crossed the territory of that country from the west coast to the east, multitudes exploded with shouts of enthusiasm.
It was 92 minutes of fascination before the cosmic pirouette that turned the day into night for a little more than two minutes and allowed to see for a moment a unique choreography by which the Moon stands between the Sun and Earth.
The first total solar eclipse crossing the United States in 99 years was a show that began at 10.15 local time (14.15 in Argentina) and ended at 14.48 local time (15.48 Argentine time).
It is estimated that seven million people moved to the strip where the “totality” was enjoyed; That is to say, in which the phenomenon could be fully appreciated. According to the teams sent to the site by news agencies and TV channels, on a splendid summer day, entire families traveled up to 15 hours to not miss the show.
As in the chronicles of antiquity, all coincided in highlighting the astonishment of the observers before the darkening of the sky and the striking natural changes. Suddenly, for a few moments, the temperature dropped and many animals showed unexpected behavior. The birds flew and the crickets began to sing believing that night had fallen. Over the ocean, the horizon turned orange.
The celestial phenomenon aroused such interest that scientific communicators and researchers occupied the center of the scene. In the newspapers, articles were multiplied in the previous days and social networks circulated profusely maps to identify the areas that would be reached by the phenomenon and tips to avoid eye damage.
Solar eclipses are not infrequent. They happen about two a year, of course not always in places so populated and in such clear days. The next one that will touch North America will be in April of 2024.
The total solar eclipse occurs when a curiosity of celestial geometry is consumed: the Moon is approximately 400 times smaller than the Sun, but is 400 times closer.
“In February, from Patagonia,” says astrophysicist and author Alejandro Gangui, a researcher at the Institute of Astronomy and Space Physics, “the moon was at its peak [the furthest point of its orbit around Earth ], Then its diameter did not cover the solar diameter and an annular eclipse was seen [in the maximum phase a ring of the Sun’s disk remained visible]. ”
Gangui recalls that in 1973 a Concorde aircraft launched to chase the shadow of the Moon during an eclipse of Sun with seven observers of France, Great Britain and the United States. “Traveling at 2.6 mach, there were 74 minutes in the shadow of the Moon,” he says.
It was precisely thanks to an eclipse that one of the predictions of Einstein’s theory of relativity was proved: that the gravity of the Sun would divert the near light. In August 1914 the German astronomer Erwin Freundlich led an expedition to the Crimea to take action during a total solar eclipse, but before World War I could break out, Russian troops captured the equipment and arrested the scientists. It was necessary to wait five years for the end of the war so that the British astronomer Arthur Eddington did the same experiment in the island Prince. Conscientious objector, Eddington had almost been thrown into prison for refusing to make the conscription, but Frank Dyson, the royal astronomer at that time, was able to obtain an exception on the condition that he himself participate in the expedition. The measurement was made in 1919 and gave the reason to Einstein.