Group 2: S&T’s 2019 Total Solar Eclipse & Southern Stargazing Tour

This Sky & Telescope tour provides an exclusive group of travelers — limited to just 24 — the opportunity to view 2019's total solar eclipse just steps from your lodging at a 5-star, all-inclusive resort.

Total solar eclipse of August 2017

Few natural events can match seeing a total solar eclipse. The next one isn't that far in the future — on July 2, 2019!
Sky & Telescope / Sean Walker

The track of the Moon's shadow on July 2, 2019, is almost entirely over southern oceans, so you'll have limited options to find high-quality lodging and a favorable location from which to observe totality.

After a year of research and two site visits to Chile, the editors of Sky & Telescope are pleased to announce the availability of an eclipse tour that will pamper you from the moment you arrive in Chile until you depart.

We have secured a contract for lodging and eclipse viewing at Casa Molle Villa & Golf in El Molle. This brand-new resort, situated in the lush and picturesque Elqui Valley, provides excellent viewing prospects for the eclipse. To appreciate the site's amenities and lushness, take a few minutes to view this promotional video.

Our travel partner for 2019's solar eclipse is Royal Adventures (CST#2009579-40), a company that specializes in tours to South America, has close, high-level contacts within Chile's astronomical community, and prides itself on providing travel experiences of unmatched quality. NOTE: This tour is limited to 24 participants! (double occupancy)

Click below to get the full details:
• Itinerary for our 7-day tour with lodging and eclipse viewing at an exclusive 5-star resort
• Itinerary for optional 5-day Atacama Desert extension
• Pricing & Terms
Reserve today! Download the Group 2 registration form

Highlights of the Main Tour

Casa Molle's golf course, our viewing site

Eclipse Viewing
Sky & Telescope's site, Casa Molle Villa & Golf, sits within the lush Elqui Valley in the small town of El Molle and offers a view toward the eclipsed Sun that's well clear of distant hills (which project only 4° from the local horizon). Moreover, this resort's 5-star rating ensures that you'll be able to enjoy the eclipse in luxurious surroundings. Weather prospects in El Molle are excellent, and totality there will have a duration of 2m 21s (not including lunar-limb correction).

The 13-inch refractor at OAN in Santiago

National Astronomical Observatory, Santiago
Cerro Calán, a modest mountain in eastern Santiago that offers commanding views of the capital city, is home to Chile’s National Astronomical Observatory. Established in 1852 (with help from the U.S. Naval Observatory), the OAN became part of the University of Chile in 1927. We’ll get a tour of its two historic refractors (with 13- and 12-inch apertures) and a modern 18-inch Cassegrain that handles most of the facility’s many informal stargazing sessions.

Many domes dot the summit of ESO's La Silla Observatory

European Southern Observatory, La Silla (tentative)
The La Silla Observatory is located at the outskirts of the Chilean Atacama Desert, 600 km north of Santiago and at an altitude of 2,400 meters (7,900 feet). Located far from sources of light pollution, La Silla offers some of the darkest night skies on Earth. This facility has been a stronghold of the European Southern Observatory since the 1960s and now has a staff of about 250. Here ESO operates two of the most productive 4-meter-class telescopes in the world.

Night sky over Observatorio del Pangue

Night sky over Observatorio del Pangue

Observatorio del Pangue
Located 18 km south of Vicuña, this facility has some impressive equipment. Staff astronomers "show you around" with a Meade 16-inch LX200 and a 25-inch Obsession reflector. There's also an Orion SkyQuest 12-inch Dobsonian. The facility also boasts a 28-inch Reginato reflector and a 20-inch PlaneWave, both of which are used mostly for astrophotography.

Highlights of the Atacama Extension

Telescopes at SPACE near San Pedro

San Pedro de Atacama Celestial Explorations (SPACE)
Created and operated by French astronomer Alain Maury, SPACE is the most well-equipped "tourist" observatory in Chile. It boasts 11 different telescopes: five "big" ones with apertures of 28, 24, and 17.5 inches — and six "small" ones with apertures from 8 to 14 inches. There's even an adjoining lodge so that eager observers could observe all night (note: not included in tour).

ALMA OSF

ALMA's Operations Support Facility

Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA)
ALMA's 66 precision radio dishes, 12 and 7 meters across, has been probing the radio universe since its inauguration in 2013. The array itself is located on Chajnantor plateau, at the very high altitude of 5,060 m (16,600 feet). So our group will tour ALMA's Operations Support Facility, not far from San Pedro and at an elevation of 2,900 m (9,500 feet). Typically one or more of the big 12-m dishes are there for servicing, and we will also visit the ALMA control room.

El Tatio geyser field

El Tatio geyser field

El Tatio Geysers
While in San Pedro, we'll assemble well before dawn to head to El Tatio. It's the largest geyser field in the Southern Hemisphere and — at an altitude of 4,320 m (14,170 feet) — the third highest anywhere! The thin air and subfreezing predawn temperature will contrast eerily with the hot, steamy mists around you, and the geyser basin is framed to the east by a series of towering stratovolcanoes that run along the border between Chile and Bolivia.

Accommodations

Casa Molle fogata

Casa Molle is the only 5-star property in 2019's path of totality

Casa Molle Villa & Golf (3 nights)
The Casa Molle Villa is a new luxury boutique hotel located in the middle of the Elqui Valley on 42 acres (17 hectares) of land. This family-owned and -operated hotel has a beautiful infinity pool, open bar, hot tub and sauna, and bikes. With a professional chef and sommelier onsite, the hotel is known for its excellent cuisine using organic products as part of its gastronomic plan. Thanks to the mild winters in this region of Chile, you'll have exclusive access to the resort's nine-hole golf course, walking trails, and much more.

Ritz-Carlton Santiago

Enjoy luxury at Santiago's Ritz-Carlton

Ritz-Carlton, Santiago (1 night; 2 nights with Atacama Extension)
The newly renovated Ritz-Carlton, set within Santiago's prestigious El Golf district, captures this distinct energy and experience with luxury hotel rooms and suites, a rooftop spa and wellness center, a collection of elegant meeting and event spaces and locally inspired dining. The jewel in the crown is the top-floor health club and pool, with a vaulted glass roof that means you can swim beneath the stars.

Hotel Altiplanico

Hotel Altiplanico offers luxury amid amazing natural surroundings.

Altiplanico San Pedro de Atacama (3 nights on the post-tour Atacama Extension)
This 4-star getaway faces the majestic Andean volcano Licancabur. Inspired by the style of an Altiplano village, its unique adobe design features simple rooms with small windows and thick walls that protect guests from the intense desert Sun and the chilling night cold. The 29 individually styled rooms offer private bathrooms, Wi-Fi, and outdoor terraces with view. Some also feature an outdoor shower to enjoy the sunny desert days and starry nights.

Group 2 Itinerary for S&T's 2019 Solar Eclipse & Southern Stargazing Tour

Date Itinerary at a Glance Accommodation Meals
Saturday, June 29, 2019 Depart for Chile (overnight flight) Meals aloft
Sunday, June 30 Santiago Ritz-Carlton L, D
Monday, July 1 Santiago & La Serena Casa Molle Villa & Golf B, L, D
Tuesday, July 2 Eclipse Viewing at Casa Molle Casa Molle Villa & Golf B, L, D
Wednesday, July 3 Observatory Tour Casa Molle Villa & Golf B, L, D
Thursday, July 4 Vicuña & Santiago (overnight flight) B, L, meals aloft
Friday, July 5 Arrive at home

Saturday, June 29, 2019 — Depart from your home
Overnight flight to Chile; dinner and breakfast (typically) aloft.

Downtown Santiago

Santiago is a vibrant, modern city of more than 5 million people.

Sunday, June 30 — Santiago
Arrive this morning in Santiago and transfer to your 5-star hotel located in the Las Condes business district. After a short afternoon orientation, we'll visit Chile's National Astronomical Observatory. Operated by the Department of Astronomy of the University of Chile, the observatory is situated on Cerro Calán, which offers breathtaking views of the city. Upon return to our hotel, we'll gather for a welcome dinner. (Lunch voucher and dinner included.)
Ritz-Carlton, Santiago

Monday, July 1 — Santiago & La Serena
Morning flight to La Serena. After a short city tour we'll transfer to our hotel. In the evening, we get to explore the southern sky during an evening excursion to a private, well-equipped observatory. If you've never seen the Magellanic Clouds and deep-sky spectacles such as the Tarantula Nebula and globular cluster 47 Tucanae, you're in for a real treat! (Breakfast, lunch, and dinner included.)
Casa Molle Villa & Golf, El Molle

Tuesday, July 2 — Eclipse Day!
After breakfast, relax at Casa Molle Villa & Golf resort, our exclusive eclipse-viewing site. Enjoy the spacious grounds of the resort while getting a final briefing about the total solar eclipse we will be seeing this afternoon. After lunch, we'll gather at our private eclipse-viewing area. Timing details appear in the table below. After the eclipse, we'll celebrate with champagne and cocktails and have dinner at the garden salon to commemorate this remarkable event. (Breakfast, lunch, and dinner included.)
Casa Molle Villa & Golf, El Molle

Casa Molle Villa & Golf

Limited to just 60 participants, guests on Sky & Telescope's tour will view the eclipse in late afternoon amid the lush splendor of Casa Molle Villa & Golf, a 5-star resort nestled in Chile's verdant Elqui Valley.

Total Solar Eclipse of July 2, 2019
as viewed from Casa Molle Villa & Golf, El Molle, Chile (70.9428°W, 29.9828°S)

Event Universal Time Local time Sun's alt. Sun's az.
Start of partial eclipse (C1) 19:23:03 3:23:03 25° 320°
Start of total eclipse (C2) 20:38:25 4:38:25 13° 307°
Maximum eclipse (mid-totality) 20:39:36 4:39:36 13° 307°
End of total eclipse (C3) 20:40:46 4:40:46 13° 307°
End of partial eclipse (C4)* 21:46:40 5:46:40 297°
Sunset 21:53 5:53 –0.3° 297°

Data courtesy Xavier Jubier. *Not visible (blocked by hills that rise 4° above true horizon).

Wednesday, July 3 — Observatory Tour
Soon after breakfast, we travel north from La Serena along the Pan-American Highway and then into the Chilean Andes for a day-long tour of La Silla Observatory (tentative destination). Like others in this geographical area, this observatory is located far from sources of light pollution, and it boasts one of the darkest night skies on Earth. Here ESO operates two 3.6-m telescopes, including the New Technology Telescope (NTT). After returning from the summit, enjoy a late afternoon at your leisure before dinner. (Breakfast, lunch, and dinner included.)
Casa Molle Villa & Golf, El Molle

Pisco tasting

Pisco tasting at Capel distillery during S&T's 2017 tour of Chile

Thursday, July 4 — Vicuña & Santiago
This morning we'll travel to the Capel pisco distillery to learn about the development of pisco, a pure and aromatic distillation produced from Muscatel grapes grown in the microclimate of the Elqui Valley. After lunch, transfer to the La Serena airport for a flight to Santiago. Those continuing on the post-trip extension to the Atacama Desert will overnight at the Marriott Hotel in Santiago. (Breakfast and lunch included.)
Ritz-Carlton (if going on Atacama extension)

Friday, July 5 — Home!
Arrive at your home city after an overnight flight from Santiago.

OPTIONAL POST-TOUR EXTENSION TO ATACAMA DESERT

Any trip to Chile would not be complete without a visit to the vast and colorful Atacama Desert. Here's your chance to see one of the driest places on Earth! Our tour includes visits to the otherworldly El Tatio geyser field, a second night of stargazing at a private observatory, and a specially arranged visit to the Atacama large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (ALMA).

Atacama mudcracks

Chile's Atacama Desert is a bleak but colorful landscape that's full of geologic wonders.
S&T / Kelly Beatty

Group 2 Itinerary for "Post-Tour Extension to Atacama Desert"

Date Itinerary at a Glance Accommodation Meals
Thursday, July 4 Santiago Ritz-Carlton
Friday, July 5 Santiago & San Pedro de Atacama Hotel Altiplanico B, L, D
Saturday, July 6 Atacama Desert and SPACE Hotel Altiplanico B, L, D
Sunday, July 7 El Tatio Geysers and ALMA Hotel Altiplanico B, L, D
Monday, July 8 San Pedro & Santiago Overnight flight B, D
Tuesday, July 9 Arrive at home

Thursday, July 4 — Santiago
After our flight from La Serena to Santiago, you'll transfer from the airport to your hotel for a leisurely evening on your own. Dinner not included.
Ritz-Carlton, Santiago

Friday, July 5 — Santiago & San Pedro de Atacama
After breakfast at the hotel, we'll transfer to the airport in time to board a late-morning flight to Calama. We'll be met at the airport and transfer to quaint regional hub of San Pedro de Atacama. On the way, we'll observe the striking salt-covered Cordillera de la Sal. After lunch at a local restaurant, the afternoon is free to explore San Pedro and to get acclimatized to the 7,900-foot altitude. In late afternoon, we depart to watch sunset at Moon and Death Valley. Then we return to the hotel and enjoy dinner together. (Breakfast, lunch, and dinner included.)
Hotel Altiplanico, San Pedro de Atacama

southern sky over San Pedro

Most of the southern-sky features seen here await you on Sky & Telescope's 2019 eclipse tour. At left are the Carina complex, Southern Cross, and Coal Sack. The Large and Small Magellanic Clouds adorn the sky at right.
S&T / Kelly Beatty

Saturday, July 6 — Atacama Desert and SPACE
After breakfast at the hotel, we depart at 8:30 am for a full-day excursion to Salar de Atacama, Chaxa lagoon, Socaire, the altiplanic lagoons of Mizcanti and Meñiques, and the Atacama's Tropic of Capricorn marker. We'll stop for lunch at a local restaurant in Socaire (Ayllu). After returning to hotel, we'll gather for dinner. After nightfall, we travel a short distance from town to the San Pedro de Atacama Celestial Explorations (SPACE), a privately owned complex of telescopes designed to thrill you with views of the southern sky. We'll return to the hotel late — but happy! (Breakfast, lunch, and dinner included.)
Hotel Altiplanico, San Pedro de Atacama

Nighttime observing in northern Chile

The views were awesome with this giant reflector at SPACE, a tourist observatory near San Pedro de Atacama.

Sunday, July 7 — El Tatio Geysers and ALMA
We leave the hotel at 5:00 a.m. (an early departure!) to reach the other-worldly El Tatio Geysers in time for sunrise. Situated at an altitude of 14,170 feet (4,320 m), this is one of the highest geothermal areas on Earth. Be sure to bring warm clothing and gloves! We'll have a picnic breakfast served at the geysers, then return to the hotel at approximately noon and have lunch. In the afternoon we'll travel to the Operations Support Facility of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), the most advanced and sensitive array of radio telescopes on the planet! After our behind-the-scenes tour, we'll return to the hotel in late afternoon, with some time on our own to rest before gathering for dinner. (Breakfast, lunch, and dinner included.)
Hotel Altiplanico, San Pedro de Atacama

Monday, July 8 — San Pedro & Santiago
Today we can relax. Enjoy leisure time after breakfast (lunch is on your own). We'll transfer to the Calama airport for a midday flight to Santiago. Bid farewell to our fellow travelers during a buffet dinner at Holiday Inn Hotel at the Santiago International Airport. Then we'll get assistance at the airport as we check in for our international flights to return home. (Breakfast and dinner included.)

Tuesday, July 9 — Home!
Arrive at your home city after an overnight flight from Santiago.

WHAT'S INCLUDED

  • In-tour flights within Chile: Santiago-La Serena-Santiago on main tour and Santiago-Calama-Santiago on Atacama Extension. (Note: Airlines can increase negotiated rates at any time. Any increase in airfare will result in a surcharge that will be included with your final invoice.)
  • Accommodation in 5-star (main tour) and 4-star (Atacama extension) hotels
  • English-speaking Tour Director exclusive to Sky & Telescope group
  • Sky & Telescope astronomy director
  • Professional English-speaking guides at all locations
  • Land transport by private motor coach
  • Airport transfers for group flights
  • All meals indicated on the itinerary
  • Wine with all dinners and most lunches
  • Bottled water during outings
  • Baggage handling
  • Tips to local guides, drivers, service charges, and taxes
  • Entrance fees on itinerary excursions and visits
  • Arrangements for all private visits to professional and tourist observatories
  • All domestic airport departure taxes
  • Customized luggage tags with Sky & Telescope logo
  • Viewing glasses for partial phases of the solar eclipse
  • Pre-tour planning information and resources

WHAT'S NOT INCLUDED

  • International airfare to and from Santiago
  • Fare increases for in-tour airline flights
  • Excess-baggage fees
  • Passport fees
  • Room service and meals not specified in itinerary
  • Alcoholic beverages except as noted
  • Personal items such as laundry, email, and telephone calls
  • Private transfers or other transportation
  • Travel and medical insurance
  • Medical expenses incurred during tour
  • Tip for the Tour Director is at participant's discretion

GROUP 2 PRICING

Pricing (per person) Double Single
Total Solar Eclipse & Southern Stargazing Tour US$10,950* US$18,450
Post-Eclipse Extension to Atacama Desert US$4,500 US$5,300

* $9,000 for 3rd person in a room at Casa Molle; this person (only) gets single room at Ritz-Carlton.

Note: All tour prices are based on costs and U.S. dollar exchange rates in effect at the time of posting. As such, prices listed here are subject to change. Sky & Telescope and/or Royal Adventures will inform clients of any changes prior to departure.

PAYMENTS & TERMS

  • To make a reservation: A reservation request can be submitted (1) by mail to Royal Adventures, 9 Crow Canyon Ct. Suite 205, San Ramon, CA 94583; (2) by fax to (925) 855-1909; or (3) by email sent to info@royaladventures.com. Reservations are recorded and acknowledged in order of receipt. Royal Adventures (CST #2009579-40) handles all invoicing. Download the Group 2 registration form.
  • Deposits: An advance payment of US$2,000 per person, along with US$500 per person for the Atacama Desert extension, is required to secure your reservation. Initial deposits may be charged to a credit card. All subsequent payments must be made by check payable to "Royal Adventures." NOTE: A second deposit of $3,000 per participant will be due by June 25, 2018. Final payment is due by January 25, 2019.
  • To cancel a reservation: Notification must be received in writing (via mail or email; see contact info above) by Royal Adventures from the participant. Cancellations received within the first 14 days of booking will receive a full refund of the trip deposit. Cancellations received after the first 14 days of booking but before January 25, 2019, will be assessed a cancellation fee equal to the total amount of all deposits paid to date. Cancellations received on or after January 25, 2019, are subject to a 100% penalty of all deposits and payments, regardless of the booking date. There are no refunds for unused meals, accommodations, or other trip features.
  • Itinerary: The itinerary is subject to change at the discretion of Sky & Telescope and Royal Adventures. All tour prices are based on costs and U.S. dollar exchange rates in effect at the time of posting. As such, prices listed here are subject to change. In particular, any increases in the fares for in-tour flights, security, and/or fuel surcharges will be paid by the participants. Sky & Telescope and/or Royal Adventures will inform clients of any changes prior to departure.
  • Tour size: This tour, exclusively designed for Sky &Telescope, is limited to 24 participants based upon double occupancy or 30 participants based on triple occupancy. The minimum group size for the main program is 24 and the minimum size for the optional post-tour Atacama extension is 10. Should the minimum group number not be met, we reserve the right to levy a small group surcharge. We will be joining with a second group of Sky Telescope for some portions of the itinerary including observatory visits and the eclipse viewing site.
  • Eclipse-day weather: Chile will be a prime location to experience 2019's total solar eclipse. We will provide an optimal viewing location to experience this phenomenon. However, because witnessing the eclipse will be weather dependent, there is always a chance that tour participants will not be able to view it or to view it only for a short period of time. Neither Royal Adventures nor F+W Trade Show & Events LLC or Sky & Telescope make any guarantees as to the viewing of the total solar eclipse.
  • Travel insurance: We highly recommend the purchase of trip cancellation insurance. An application for insurance will be provided by Royal Adventures upon confirmation. F+W Trade Show & Events LLC, Sky &Telescope, and Royal Adventures accept no liability for any airline cancellation penalty incurred by the purchase of a non-refundable airline ticket or other expenses incurred by tour participants in preparing for the tour.
  • Disclaimer: Every reasonable effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of information presented here. Royal Adventures, F+W Trade Show & Events LLC, and Sky & Telescope are not responsible for errors in or damages resulting from use of the information contained herein. Information contained here is subject to change.
  • Responsibility: Royal Adventures, its owners and employees act only as an agent for the various independent suppliers and contractors providing transportation, hotel accommodations, restaurant and other services connected with this tour. Such travel and services are subject to the terms and conditions under which such accommodations, services and transportation are offered or provided. F+W Trade Show & Events, LLC, Sky & Telescope, and Royal Adventures (and their respective, employees, agents, representatives, and assigns) accept no liability therefor. F+W Trade Show & Events, LLC, Sky & Telescope, and Royal Adventures assume no liability for any injury, damage, loss, accident, delay or other irregularity which may be caused by the defect of any aircraft or vehicle or the negligence or default of any company or person engaged in carrying out or performing any of the services involved. Additionally, responsibility is not accepted for losses, injury, damages or expenses of any kind due to sickness, weather, earthquake, strikes, local laws, hostilities, wars, terrorist acts, acts of nature, quarantine, force majeure, injury including: eye injury, animal or insect bites, altitude related sickness, or other such causes. All services and accommodations are subject to the laws of the country in which they are provided. F+W Trade Show & Events, LLC, Sky & Telescope and Royal Adventures reserve the right to make changes in the published itinerary whenever, in their sole judgment, conditions warrant, or if they deem it necessary for the comfort, convenience or safety of the tour participants. They reserve the right to withdraw this tour without penalty, in which case participants will be issued a full refund, except if the tour is cancelled due to force majeure or other forces beyond our control in which case the recoverable portion of unused services or accommodations will be refunded. The right is also reserved to decline to accept or retain any person as a member of the tour, or to substitute another qualified leader or special guest. Baggage and personal effects are the sole responsibility of the owners at all times. The price of the program is given in good faith based on current tariffs and rates and is subject to change. Any tariff, exchange rate, or fuel increases will be passed onto participants. The air ticket when issued shall constitute the sole contract between the passenger and the airline concerned. There are no refunds for unused meals, accommodations, or other features. As part of the consideration and right to participate in this tour, each participant will be asked to sign a liability release.
  • Questions: Please contact Royal Adventures at info@royaladventures.com or call 800-453-4754 or 925-820-6260 (Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time).