First solar eclipse of 2019 will plunge South America into 10,000 km of darkness

it will be visible from the Pacific Ocean, Chile and Argentina but it can't be viewed from the Indian subcontinent.

On 2 July 2019, the year's first and only total solar eclipse will take place. Also known as 'Surya Grahan' in Hindi, the eclipse will begin at 10.25 pm IST on 2 July.

The eclipse will be visible directly to observers across the Pacific Ocean, Chile and Argentina and will last a total of four minutes and 3 seconds. Day will become night along a stretch of the South Pacific, Chile and Argentina as a rare "total solar eclipse" plunge the landscape into darkness. However, most of the 6,800-mile path is over the open ocean.

A solar eclipse takes place when the Sun, Moon and Earth are all in a straight line, such that the Moon blocks the Sun's rays from reaching the Earth.

First solar eclipse of 2019 will plunge South America into 10,000 km of darkness

Representational image. Image credit: NASA

This time around, the eclipse will be visible in South America and regions nearby. Since the eclipse is due to take place at nighttime over the Indian subcontinent, residents in India can't watch the event live but will be able to stream the event online.

After achieving totality, partial phases of the eclipse will last from just before to until sunset across most of South America. Chileans find themselves at ground zero for total eclipses three times this decade - once in 2010, again Tuesday and a third time on Dec. 14, 2020. An annular or "ring of fire" eclipse also occurred in 2017. The United States will have to wait its turn to catch a solar eclipse till 2024, according to a report from the Washington Post.

Just so you don't miss either of these celestial sights, here's all you need to know about when and where to watch these events, and what to expect.

How to view a solar eclipse

Watching a solar eclipse can be harmful to the eyes without some safety equipment. A major misconception is that you can use sunglasses to look at the sun during an eclipse, however, that is not true.

Your protective eyewear needs to have a sun filter or be a specially-made pair of eclipse glasses. The UV radiation can burn the retinas causing serious damage and even lead to blindness. Keep your back turned to the sun.  Seeing the eclipse on an optical instrument through a screen – your mobile phones, televisions or camera screens are perfectly okay.

Binoculars, camera viewfinders and telescopes, however, can end up causing instant and permanent blindness.

The trusty, old-school way to watch an eclipse safely is crafting a DIY solar eclipse viewer, like this one made out of a cereal box:

Watch it from the comfort of your couch

For those of us that are in India, there's no reason to put yourself through all the trouble of investing in protective eclipse-watching gear. We might be better off, what with a live stream of the entire event available to stream, courtesy of the good people at NASA.

You can make a fun DIY projector to view the sun and you can find the instructions here.

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