Sharing Hope During Uncertain Times - 46,000 Glasses Go to South America

By Zoe Chee posted 12-10-2020 00:00


Astronomers Without Borders has been planning to send glasses to Argentina and Chile since the last total solar eclipse passed through South America in 2019. How times have changed.

The bulk of our recycled glasses have now been all distributed thanks to Explore Scientific for holding them and shipping them out per our request. This project spanned from August 2017 to today.

Last year in preparation for the event, Beatriz Garcia of the Instituto de Tecnologías en Detección y Astropartículas (ITeDA) reached out to us and requested 40,000 glasses to Medoza, Argentina, where she distributed them through out the Neuquén province to thousands.

Glasses distribution and public awareness of solar safety was disseminated through radio, print and television. Her dedication in receiving the glasses from the United States and putting these resources into the hands of the local pubic has been amazing!

Lines formed around a town square with people who waited, masked and socially distanced to receive their free pair of solar safety glasses. Young and old received envelopes and information sheets filled with information about how to view the spectacle to the science of an eclipse.

In Chile, 6000 glasses were sent though diplomatic pouch thanks to the Chilean embassy in Washington DC and the US embassy in Santiago, Chile. Thank you Camila Constanza Garcia Perez, Isabel Toro and Dinah Arnett (respectively) who made this possible.

We were able to pinpoint Indigenous people, the Mapuche, in remote rural areas that wouldn't otherwise have viewing equipment suitable to watch the eclipse. Through the help of AWB's own board member, Yasmin Catricheo And Gloria Villagran Villanueva of the Fundacion Janequeo, 2000 glasses were sent to Chillán, Región de Ñuble, Alerce, Region de los Lagos and Catripulli, Region de La Araucanía. Aided by Patricio Rojo of the University of Chile, 2000 more glasses were distributed to neighbouring locations.

As I reflect on all the people who will enjoy a sight that amazed my family and me in August of 2017, it excites me to know that they will feel the same exhilaration that we felt three years ago. I feel like I have made a connection with people all around the world by sharing an experience that is so simplistic in nature. I looked up.

From the United States of America in 2017, to Peru, Argentina, Chile, India, China, Pakistan, Ethiopia and now back again in South America. The generosity of those who saw the sun disappear in one continent to the eyes of thousands seeing a similar event in another continent has given hope and inspiration that reaches beyond any border. In these uncertain times, this is what we need the most.

On December 14, no matter where you are - in lockdown, celebrating the holidays or the eclipse with family, take a moment to look up at the sky and know that there are others doing the same.

We are One People, One Sky.