The solar annular eclipse that occurred on Saturday, October 14, was visible throughout Colombia, but in places like the capital, Bogota, heavy cloud cover significantly hindered the ability to observe the event. It was better observed in regions such as the Atlantic coast, the coffee region, and Buenaventura on the Pacific coast.
The phenomenon began at 11:48 am and ended at 3:15 pm. It was the first such eclipse in the country in the last 25 years, and according to experts, a similar solar eclipse won’t be experienced again until January 2028.
The eclipse passed through the United States, the Yucatán Peninsula in southern Mexico, Central America, Colombia, and Brazil. While this was a partial eclipse, the moon covered up to 88% of the solar surface. It is called “annular” because the moon is at its farthest point from Earth and cannot completely block the sun when the two celestial bodies cross paths. The sun therefore appears, at the height of the eclipse, as a ring.
Anticipation in the Sky
Although Bogota experienced the event with some disappointment due to significant cloud cover on Saturday, after a week of mostly clear skies, the anticipation among professional astronomers, enthusiasts, and the general public was at its peak.
For much of the morning, the Colombian capital was completely covered in clouds, frustrating many onlookers. Nonetheless, a significant decrease in brightness could be observed throughout the city during the nearly 4-hour natural event.
Despite the conditions, many citizens gazed at the sky, hoping to catch a break in the clouds. Astronomy enthusiasts gathered at the Bogota Planetarium, armed with cameras properly equipped with filters to protect their lenses, and directed their equipment at the cloudy Andean sky, hoping for a glimpse of light between the clouds.
Hundreds of residents also gathered at Monserrate, in the Eastern Hills of Bogota. The sanctuary, located at an altitude of 3,000 meters, is already a social pilgrimage center for residents on Bogota’s weekends.
A similar situation occurred in Cali, where clouds also threatened to dash expectations of observing the eclipse in the capital of Colombia’s Pacific region.
In this regard, the best areas in the country to enjoy this natural event were the two coasts, the coffee region, and the Amazon region.
The Next One in January 2028
While eclipses are not an extraordinary phenomenon, they are unusual in magnitudes as large as this year’s, at 88%. Most eclipses are partial, meaning they do not completely cover the solar surface.
The last eclipse visible in Colombia was in August 2017, but, for example, in Bogota, the moon only hid 25% of the sun, whereas from La Guajira department in the Caribbean, it reached 50% solar coverage.
This year’s eclipse was annular, more powerful than partial but not as intense as a total eclipse. The next eclipses visible from Colombia will be in 2024, and, especially, in 2028. On April 8, 2024, a partial eclipse will occur, while another annular eclipse, like the one this past weekend, will not be seen until January 26, 2028, when it will be visible only in the Amazon region.
To enjoy a total eclipse in Colombia one will have to wait until May 11, 2059, with peak visibility only in the southern Amazon region of the country. However, despite being the most dramatic of the century, it won’t be as visible as the one in 1991; such a significant eclipse will not happen again until 2132, and is therefore reserved for future generations of Colombians to enjoy.