At the same time that one of the major sports events at a global level –the 2010 FIFA World Soccer Cup in South Africa– was coming to an end, on Easter Island thousands of tourists were able to witness one of the most spectacular phenomena visible from Earth: a total solar eclipse. At 8:08 pm GMT (2:08 pm local time), visitors in Rapa Nui observed the moon covering the sun for 4 minutes and 45 seconds.
There was uncertainty until a short time before the eclipse began, because it had rained up to nearly 11:00 am and the meteorological services had announced that the clouds might make it impossible to view the spectacle. But fortunately for those present, the sky cleared in time and they were able to observe the phenomenon of the moon hiding the sun in all its splendor.
When the shadow of the moon started to cover the sun, the thousands of people on the Anakena beach applauded. “It was like being in a stadium at night with artificial light. Like being in a dark room lit by a 10-watt bulb”, stated local policeman Francisco Haoa to the U.K .Daily Mail. Like Haoa, nearly eight thousand people saw the eclipse from the Chilean island, which doubled its population during that time.
Patricio Rojo, an astronomer from the Universidad de Chile, highlighted that “it was spectacular, to say the least. The darkness was felt most strongly during the last two minutes; prior to that it was all very gradual, but at the end it accelerated, everything got dark and suddenly the corona of the sun appeared, which is the ring around the solar disc”, he reported to BBC Mundo.
Apart from Anakena (the main beach on Rapa Nui), visitors also congregated in the sectors of Tahai and Ahu Hakiri, among the stone giants called moais. Many of the spectators recorded videos of the phenomenon and placed them on YouTube.
Another of the social networks used by the witnesses of the eclipse on Easter Island to share their photos and comments was Twitter. “The total solar eclipse on Rapa Nui was simply spectacular!!! The best in the world!!”, commented Hawaiian citizen Ioan Haumoana Hotu from his account. In turn, Chilean Felipe Pinto wrote “Live from Rapa Nui, emotion and darkness”.