Chasing the Total Solar Eclipse in Chile with Xavier Jubier


Chasing the Total Solar Eclipse in Chile with Xavier Jubier



Eclipse expert and upcoming GO Guide Xavier Jubier shares his passion for the night sky and what to expect during the total solar eclipse in Chile next July.


Total solar eclipses are, for most people, an extremely rare once-in-a-lifetime experience. That’s not the case for Xavier Jubier, French umbraphile and eclipse expert who has logged 18 total eclipses and counting. We catch up with Xavier about his passion for chasing this surreal astronomical phenomenon across the globe and learn more about what to expect during our 8-day trip to Chile for next summer’s total solar eclipse, where he’ll be your guide for totality.



Q: You'll be alongside travelers in the Elqui Valley for the upcoming 2019 South American Eclipse. What can guests expect from the experience? 


Guests can expect a truly magnificent view of the most beautiful and powerful natural event one hour before sunset; there are insufficient superlatives to describe it. You will never forget that feeling and this very special light, which for many can be a life-changing experience. Moreover as such an event is short in duration, barely more than two minutes next year, you can feel the excitement mounting during the previous hours and during the partial phase just before totality. It's incredibly difficult to witness a total solar eclipse for yourself, so do make sure you join us in Chile next year.


Q: July is winter in Chile. Will weather play a role in viewing this eclipse?


Weather is indeed a key parameter when choosing a location to view a solar eclipse because you need to maximize the odds of seeing this fleeting phenomenon. In this part of Chile the sky is usually clear most of the year and the humidity level quite low, which is why you’ll find professional astronomical observatories in this area as well. Temperatures are lower during the winter, yet pleasant during the day and cool during the night. This will permit a good viewing of the total solar eclipse and later of the starry night sky as well. Plus, for most travelers, the southern night sky is another wonder not to be missed.


"You can feel the excitement mounting during the previous hours and during the partial phase just before totality."



Q: Total solar eclipses are rare and often only seen in hard to reach locations—the last one was in 2017 in the United States and before that, Indonesia in 2016 and the North Pole in 2015. Have you seen totality before? If so, how would you describe it?


For 2015 it could be seen at the North Pole, but wasn’t observed there, instead umbraphiles opted for Svalbard and the Faroe Islands—the only two landmasses inside the eclipse path; the remaining eclipse chasers went airborne.

On average you do have one total solar eclipse every 18 months, but to view it you need to be inside a narrow ribbon on the Earth surface that we call the eclipse path. I have seen totality many times and don’t keep count of it as this is not what matters—only your experience matters and what you make of it afterwards. This link gives you an idea (expand the map full screen).


Q: Tell us how your love for the night sky was sparked.


I always enjoyed observing the wonders of nature and by extent the universe. Our earth is just a small vessel wandering in space. Nature and the night sky will never deceive you, plus we should never forget that we come from the stars. In the end you’re looking for answers and you’re on a never ending quest of which the night sky is at the center.


"We should never forget that we come from the stars." 


Q: What makes this eclipse in July 2019 so special?


Each solar eclipse is special. The coming total solar eclipse will be low above the horizon, about 13 degrees, and this is usually nicer yet also riskier as more airmass lies between you and the eclipse. It’s nice because you do not really need to look up, and it’s just above the natural landscape which creates nice framing for photographers. Lastly, the shape of the umbra and the 360-degree sunset is more prominent when at this level.

Planets Mercury, Venus and Mars will be seen near the eclipsed sun, and Jupiter will be at your back provided you have an unobstructed view down to the horizon.

For those who witnessed the 2001 total solar eclipse over the African continent, this coming TSE is the next in Saros which means it’s sort of an anniversary. The next anniversary for this Saros will be in 2037 over Australia and New Zealand.



Q: What are you most excited about, the totality or the "g-astronomical" feast that will be prepared by CasaMolle?


The masterpiece is of course the total solar eclipse and the adrenaline rush you’ll get from it. That said, sharing my experience with others at CasaMolle is part of the event and certainly rewarding!


Q: What's next for the ultimate eclipse chaser?


The next total solar eclipse! You try to think about your next experience and how you can make the most of it to enjoy it even more. Each time it’s a new adventure.


This trip is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Share the experience with Xavier and book your spot today.


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Eclipse Chasing with Xavier Jubier


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