Eclipse 2019, Argentina

     At the start of July of 2019, I started my trek to South America.  My first stop on June 31st was a flight to Buenos Aires.  There I met two trekking buddies with a rented car. We were to drive across Argentina and witness the July 2nd, 2019 Total Solar Eclipse.  The location I picked was close to the Chile/Argentina border and is considered one of the driest places on earth. This would increase the chances of a cloudless sky during the eclipse.  The location was quite remote and near the city of San Juan, Argentina.

Solar Eclipse 2019 area map

     Of course it took two days to drive there.  We stayed near a place called the Museo Rocsen in Nono, Argentina on June 31st.  We then continued to San Juan for the night of July 1st.  Once in San Juan, we had four locations to pick from, just north of the city.  On July 2nd, we drove to the Solar Eclipse 2019 MidII site on the satellite image below.

Satellite image of the Total Solar Eclipse pathway in 2019 near San Juan, Argentina

     On the morning of July 1st, my trekking buddies and I visited the Rocsen Museo.   The Rocsen is a museum located in Nono, Córdoba Province, Argentina, 8 km from Mina Clavero. It was established in 1969 and features a “multifaceted” collection of over 23,000 pieces, with natural history, archaeological and decorative objects from all around the world.   

Standing under two of my historical heroes in front of the Rocsen Museum
The entrance of the Rocsen Museo, Argentina 2019

     The front door was guarded by 49 handmade statues of the most prominent people from all over the world. The list included Leonardo Da Vinci, Saint John The Baptist, Johannes Gutenberg, Saint Francis, and Mahatma Ghandi.  Of course I found a couple of my Physics heroes pictured above.

Skull case found within the Rocsen Museo

     In 1959 “Juan Santiago Bouchon” arrived from France to Nono, Cordoba, Argentina with a vision and a passion for collecting. Ten years later he opened a “multifaceted museum” dedicated to mankind and its works. He started out with a small display in an old property inherited from his family but now in 2019 he has expanded his collection to include near 23,000 pieces.

A collection of spurs and other paraphernalia of the Gaucho in Argentina

     Gaucho, the nomadic and colorful horseman and cowhand of the Argentine and Uruguayan Pampas (grasslands), who flourished from the mid-18th to the mid-19th century and has remained a folk hero similar to the cowboy in western North America, (pictured below).

Gaucho dress from the early 19th Century

     Mr. Bouchon was born in Niza (France) in 1928 and he claims to have been a keen collector since childhood. Now, he owns the biggest and most interesting private collection of archeological and anthropological pieces in Argentina, which includes everything from mineral samples and animal skeletons, to pieces of aboriginal art, all sorts of antiques, male and female clothing from all ages, cutlery, art, toys, crystals, weapons, music instruments, and “every single piece of machinery ever made by men.”

A collection of weight/mass balances at the rocsen Museo

     The whole collection is arranged by theme. There were eight different rooms and we found lots of small treasures and also some bizarre displays, like the two-headed cow or the human skulls (pictured above).

A collection of old 19th century cameras in the Rocsen Museo

     Every single room was completely filled with magical pieces right up to the ceiling so the list of wonders is nearly endless.

One of the oldest Jukeboxes I’ve ever seen.  Found at the Rocsen Museo 2019

     The Rocsen exhibit shows about 23,000 different pieces and the number keeps growing every day thanks to people’s donations and Bouchon’s eagerness to “complete” his collection.

The Total Solar Eclipse 2019 MidII site; (near an abandoned railroad track)

     On July 2nd, 2019; my trekking partners and I drove north from San Juan to the chosen eclipse site.  There was nobody there, except for an Argentina family from Patagonia. A young female Astronomy-student was there with her family, because her college professor told her this was an ideal stop on the map to view the Eclipse, (pictured below).  I set up my telescope and my trekking partners set up their cameras.

An Argentina Astronomy-Student preparing to use my small home-made 6 inch reflector telescope
Total Solar Eclipse of 2019.  Note the solar corona

     Here are two of our images taken during the eclipse of 2019.  This was a year of solar-minimum.  In other words, the eclipse lacked any solar spots, solar flares or solar prominences. This is actually, unique and rare during and total eclipse.  Below, is a very good picture of the “Diamond Ring”.  A very difficult image to capture, due to aperture issues.

“The Diamond Ring” during the Solar Eclipse 2019 in Argentina

     This site in Argentina was extremely remote and absent of crowds.  We were surprised to find this sign pictured below.    

 A sign that we found the next day on our way back from the San Juan to Buenos Aires

     On July 3rd, 2019, we started driving back across Argentina towards Buenos Aires.  On our first day, we spent several hours exploring and trekking Ischiqualasto Provincial Park.  Ischigualasto Provincial Park,  also called Valle de la Luna (“Valley of the Moon” or “Moon Valley”), due to its moon like appearance, is a provincial protected area in the north-east of San Juan Province, north-western Argentina.

Ischiqualast Provincial Park

     The Ischigualasto Provincial Park is huge at more than 600 square kilometers and is high above sea level at more than 1,330 m.  Pictured above is a herd of Guanaco crossing the road just outside of the park. The guanaco is an adorable, grey-faced type of camel that populates South America. They live in packs and are known for being able to survive even the harshest conditions, including South America’s famously rain-deprived Argentina desert.

El Valle Pintado” (Painted Valley), Ischigualasto in Argentina; Water eroded deposits

     The  Ischiqualasto park features all of the vegetation you would typically find in this area, (some small trees, cacti, and bushes), and is very dry with extreme temperatures. A near constant wind and little rainfall (almost all of which occurs during the summer) make this a harsh environment that is easy to visit but difficult to live in.

“The Sphinx” at the Ischiqualasto Provincial Park; wind-eroded deposit

     The park gets its nickname, the Valley of the Moon, because of the rugged, otherworldly geological structures that dot the landscape.

On one of the trails within Ischiqualasta Provincial Park

     Millions of years ago, this area was a floodplain dominated by strong rivers and rainfall. In the time of the dinosaurs, these rock deposits were formed slowly over time and have stood ever since.

A large number of concretions called, “The Bowling Field” in the Ischiqualasto Park 

     Some of these rocks are as round and smooth as marbles because of the constant wind that has shaped them through erosion.   

“Los Colorados” Formation in the Ischigualasto park, red cliffs on the Sierra Morada

The Ischigualasto Provincial Park is unique, it is one of the only places in the world where Triassic continental sediments can be found. They are ash, white, gray, red and vermillion colored rocks, with fossils of reptiles and dinosaurs.

The Submarine, wind-eroded rock formation at the Ischiqualasto Park

     Among the rocks, giant (some more than 43 m tall) petrified tree trunks attest to the rich vegetation that once fed the similarly giant creatures that walked among them, (pictured below).

Museum found at the Ischigualasto Provincial Park

     Today, an area around the Valley of the Moon is known as holding some of the world’s oldest dinosaur remains. It is a popular , (and important) site for paleontological research.  Rhynchosaurs and cynodonts (especially rhynchosaur Hyperodapedon and cynodont Exaeretodon) are by far the predominant findings among the tetrapod fossils in the park.  Carnivorous dinosaurs are the most common terrestrial carnivores of the Ischigualasto Formation, with herrerasaurids comprising 72% of all recovered terrestrial carnivores. Dinosaurs of Ischigualasto Formation include early samples of the two major lineages of dinosaurs (ornithischians and saurischians). The carnivorous archosaur Herrerasaurus is the most numerous of these dinosaur fossils. Another important putative dinosaur with primitive characteristics is Eoraptor lunensis, found in Ischigualasto Park.

The sun is going down on “The Mushroom” at the Ischiqualasto Provincial Park in Argentina 2019
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