In South America, the coronavirus will cut off travel to 2020′s top astronomical event

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If it sounds like an otherworldly experience, that’s because it’s sure to be. And it’s one that thousands have eagerly been preparing for leading up to a Dec. 14 total solar eclipse that will track across Chile and Argentina.But virtually none will be able to go, thanks to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Both countries have sealed their borders to international tourism and show no signs of reversing that decision before the once-in-a-lifetime celestial spectacle.Even veteran eclipse chasers such as Jay Pasachoff, a professor of astronomy at Williams College, say this year’s eclipse is far from a routine venture for those even able to go.“This year is the worst,” Pasachoff said.He’s one of three people globally to hold the world record for eclipse-chasing, having witnessed 35 total solar eclipses since his first in 1959. That one, which he and fellow classmates in his freshman seminar viewed from a plane, left him hooked on what would be a lifelong addiction.“Each time it gets better and better,” he said.A total solar eclipse meets a meteor showerSolar eclipses are something that have to be seen to be understood. Astronomers and stargazers alike routinely travel tens of …

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