The 1999 Eclipse : Accounts

A collection of accounts of the 1999 Eclipse sent to this web site by e-mail


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Richard Bellia and Sylvie Chavret


A couple from France we met in India with whom we saw the 1995 eclipse.

Dear Talaat, Dear Kryss,

Thank you for your mail.

I will tell you briefly how the eclipse was for us : absolutely magnificent.

We were in the North east of France (my hometown is called Longwy, you can find it on the Nasa book). The weather forecast was not very good, stating that it would be a case of 50/50 chance (cloudy or clear). Many friends had turned up from Paris, Geneva, London, Lyon and even Guadeloupe (where we saw the 98 eclipse). I found a field 15 mile away from home, I felt it was the right place. All of us, about 30 people went to that field early in the morning, the sky was cloudy everywhere.then the sky literately "opened up" for thirty minutes, there was a "blue window" (sorry,when it comes to writing poetry, I am 13 years old) in the sky where we could perfectly see the totality. At the same time, it was raining at home !! Ten minutes after totality, the sky was cloudy again. We were extremely lucky.

I must tell you that I have been a consultant for "Radio France International" the French world service about the eclipse. That radio station bought me a plane ticket for the eclipse : they wanted me to fly in the Concorde. You must have heard about it, this plane followed the eclipse for 7 minutes over the Atlantique. Only trouble : there were 4 persons per window. The plan was to ask every person to watch Totality for 1 minutes 35 sec, and then let someone else look through the window. I turned down that offer. Considering what we saw in that field with my friends, family and my parents, I know I did the right choice.

Talaat, Kryss, if we have become so hooked up on eclipses, that's because you showed us the right things to do back in 95. Now, Sylvie and I have seen 4, and have become quite good at sharing eclipses with friends. But you were there at the first place, you were our teachers in a way. I must thank you again for that. I hope that one day, we will watch another eclipse together.

A très bientôt.

Sylvie
Richard


Eric Flescher

Greetings black sun eclipse chasers

I just got in from Budapest late last night. I have hundreds of emails to catch up with. A short note about the eclipse of 11 August and the results from the eclipse tour by Out and About Travel tour that I was co-leader.

We were staying in Hevis, near Lake Balaton after a beautiful time in Vienna. That night brilliant starlight skies. We could sleep easily after all that worrying today.

3:30 in the morning woke up to blinding rain and storms. Coming down to breakfast feeling our chances were cooked just like the hard boiled eggs, we saw there was a big blue patch in the sky from the west and growing. Wow there is hope!!!!!!!!

After seeing the conditions and calculating the weather flow, (four of us went around Lake Balaton the night before to check out Siofok), I decided we should change our plans and not to go to Siofok, on Lake Balaton.

At 8am we headed out, me in the lead car with two others and our full bus behind. After looking at the sky and thinking about the it , I directed the group of 40 to a small town called Nagyvazsony almost parallel to Baltonfured on the centerline but a little to the north and west. We camped in a big field (after getting permission) with 360 degree full view and Nagyvazsony 600 yards (0.5 km) to the south and a small town to the south 1/2 mile (1 km) away. We were up on a little hill. elevation not sure.

The clouds swirled around and moved to the South east. We had great conditions. Pretty clear all the way. We were in a big clear patch and this is where I decided we should stay. People set up equipment.

Highlights

(1) I set up my camcorder on the tripod to capture the darkening and the shadow, First contact- mostly clear as the children climbed the 20 foot (6 m) haystack and, people ate lunch and set up. It was starting to get exciting and I thought - imagt's rapid advance and then it was half covered. I shouted to look at the swallows that came out to feed on the insects that were all of a sudden coming out - 20 minutes before totality. The sky was bluer and the temperature got cooler. A dog near some campers from the Czech Republic we could see was getting nervous.

(3) The thin cumulus clouds rolled over the sun but I was not worried as the circulation was bringing clear skies from the northwest. The other clouds near the horizon to the northwest stuck there. A thin crescent appeared.

(4) The shout - "shadow bands" around 2 minutes 2nd contact before rang out. I looked but could not see them as everyone shouted there they are as they raced over the white paper on the pasteur ground.

(5) Here it comes. Shadow obscured a cumulus cloud and a horizontal bank of clouds about 7 degrees about the horizon (I have on videotape). The shadow moved in after rising above the cloud bank. The blue over took us as I swivelled the video camera to the sun after capturing the shadow darkening.

(6) The diamond ring spread gold all around the sun. Even as it glinted for a long time , I could see the inner corona. We had full 360 degree view of ring of fire. Bells rang in the town to the south.

(7) I looked up after recording the corona. I zoomed in and out to get prominences which some saw with naked eye but I could not. The golden corona with the spikes were glorious. The golden color of the corona reminded me of that blue gold color on the landscape near Brandon in Canada in 1979. The spikes in the corona were all around just as the SOHO satellite had pictured it a week before the trip. More spiky and pointed but such a pretty GOLD. White Venus was easy to spot below. The corona was much more a yellow gold then the Caribbean eclipse and it stood out more against the sky then settling into the azure blue background like the 1998 eclipse off Montserat.

(8) It was darker then the 1998, 1979, 1991, 1973 eclipse. Not as dark as 1972 in Arasaig.

(9) I kept zooming in and out and the prominences were at 7, 3 and 1 o'clock.

(10) 3rd contact and the diamond ring and 5 seconds later the light clouds skirted the sun. I could not take the video off it but I did. I didn't want to let go if there beautiful moments. This was my 6th total, my wife's 2nd and son's first. The group was talking about everything we saw.

There was an eclipse festival in town 1800 yards (1650 m) and they had telescopes still set up, sold eclipse stamps and more. An amateur still had his telescope linked to his computer and webcam. It was great day indeed and everyone.

I looked at my video in the car as were going back to Hevis. I got great shots of the corona, darkening, landscape and much more. That was my main goal. I was really pleased about how the video came out. Only thing I forgot to do was zoom out again slowly to get Venus and the stars. Maybe I can see it when I zoomed in.

Budapest had some real beautiful views.

My plans - edit the videotape and make a tape of it for our trip and include not only the eclipse but the trip too like I did last year. It should be an even better tape then last year! Also I will isolate frames with my Mac to get more pics.

I will then put up poetry and accounts of the people on our trip (and others who want to contribute ) - on the black sun website have special section about the eclipse and trip.

We were lucky as others did not see it or have as good a conditions as us. Plans for 2001 starting now- the eclipse elixir makes you that way. (Coming the eclipse elixir poem).

Looking forward to sharing accounts. More later.

Dr. Eric Flescher (KCStarguy@aol.com)
Out and About Travel eclipse tour August 5-15, co-leader

Eric's Black Sun Eclipse Website
Subscribe to the Black Sun Eclipse Newsletter


John, Nikki, Joanne, Sophie and Tom Harbour


Friends from the early 1980s. John saw the 1991 eclipse with us. They saw the 1999 eclipse while on a barge holiday in France.

Clouds. We had a good view of the sun just after 1st contact and just after 3rd contact, but none during totality. Still, the darkness was very impressive (much darker than I remember it being in Mexico - I can't think why) and everyone enjoyed the experience.

Hope to see you soon.

John


Tony Sargeant

dear Kryss

sorry to boast but i saw totality in cornwall (perranporth), the morning started with a fairly clear sky but the like everywhere in cornwall the clouds came rolling in so thick and low you could have hung from them, i felt so down and miserable, i had waited for 25 years to see my first eclipse, then with only about 5 minutes to totality my wife noticed the crescent of the sun poking though the clouds, i got quite excited at seeing that, then just as totality approached a million to one chance a patch of blue sky appeared and there it was the total eclipse i had waited to see for all those years it lasted until the diamond ring then it was lost to the clouds again, but wow what an emotional feeling i admit i had tears in my eyes. not expecting to see this i had not even setup my camera, i managed to get one photograph which turned out blurred but i don't mind i will always have the memory and emotions of cornwall 1999. cant wait till 2001.

tony sargeant.


Alison Goodall

Hi

I thought you may have been interested in this as I was just a few miles (kilometres) away from St Agnes at Perranporth, above the beach on the grass dunes.

We were luckily enough to see totality for the whole two minutes and about a minute after the sun reappeared it was covered over, probably by that big black cloud that ruined the view for you. We didn't see a large corona, but we could see purple and red prominences and a great diamond ring - although I don't recall seeing the first one. It really was one of the most exciting and emotional moments in my life. I'll have to start saving to see another!

When I saw the weather in the morning I knew in my heart of hearts that I wasn't going to see an eclipse, but a small part of me wouldn't accept it as I'd waited and looked forward to it for so long. When we were sitting on the headland freezing my boyfriend said that perhaps we should have just stayed in and watched the TV instead, but I said imagine how gutted you'd feel if you heard that everyone had seen it. So my perserverance and optimism paid off! There was a family sitting next to us with kids from about ten to fifteen. They did nothing but whinge, but afterwards they were glad their parents had dragged them out.

As for the weather, it was just sod's law that the afternoon before and the day after was just beautiful. I recorded the BBC programme and watched it the other night (fast forwarding through a lot of Philipa Forrester) and I felt so sorry for poor old Patrick Moore sitting in the rain. Although like you, he'd seen it all before, he looked so disappointed.

But anyway, it seemed that everyone had a great time and there was quite a lot of the good old Dunkirk Spirit, so worth it just to be there whatever you did or didn't see.

Alison Goodall
Internet Systems Co-ordinator


PSK


Cousin.

We managed to find a hole in the clouds a couple of kilometres north of the centre line in France just minutes before 2nd contact.

It was quite incredible. We could see the shadow rushing towards us over the clouds just before totality. Then the sun disappeared completely and the corona flashed into view along with Mercury and Venus. It got dark as night within a few seconds yet we could still see a ring of bright sky low down on the horizon all around us. It was as if we were standing under the hole of a huge doughnut-shaped cloud.

About 5 minutes After totality a thin veil of cloud moved over the sun and we could see the partial eclipse clearly without having to look through a filter. Then the sun disappeared and it started to rain!

We celebrated our fantastic eclipse week in Paris with champagne cocktails and caviar at the Ritz Vendome Bar while a black lady with a beautiful voice sang the blues for us. What a week!

As you can see, we only just made it. People only half a mile from us saw nothing at all except the darkness. One of my passengers navigated with a compass, the GPS unit and a large-scale map while I drove like mad during the few minutes that everyone was supposed to get off the road towards the only patch of clear sky for miles (on tiny country roads). (it was illegal to drive during the eclipse and all lorries were banned between 11am and 2pm.)

The only downside was that my camera refused to work and I spent half the eclipse standing in the dark trying to fix the damn thing. I came to the conclusion that the battery was flat and gave up. I got a new battery when we got back to Paris and it still didn't work, so I opened it up and found that the film hadn't taken-up on the winding spool :-(

Never mind, I hope to make up for it in Africa next time around - see, the bug's bitten me now :-)

I think just 'being there' is half the fun. Anyway, you've seen so many already, now you can say you've also experienced one under a cloudy sky.

Best regards to all; Lots of Hugs too :-)


Steven Bass

kryss...

just found your site about eclipses. from where you said you saw the eclipse reckon i was pretty close to you - we watched from st agnes beacon. i am reckoning that you were there too or maybe by the tin mine we could see from our position.

i wanted to find out more about the next total eclipse and the best location to see it. do you know of any sites that you could recommend or any travel agents? have you got far in planning a trip to that one yet?

please let me know if you have the time.

thanks

stephen


Maxime

Hello Kryss.

I' ve seen your site and i like it very much. It's complete and interesting. It's the only site where i found pictures of the landscape during the totality, and not only pictures of the sun....

I'm just 15 years old and i've seen my first eclipse during this summer, in Belgium, my country. I had luck : during all the partial phase, the weather was horrible: clouds, rain, etc... But just before the totality the sun appeared and i saw it !!!

I had seen a partial one in 1995, in Cambodia where i was living, at 80% but it was not the same.

I'd like to see as much eclipses as i can, and i like your point of view : when you travel to countries so far, why stay there only for 5 minutes? Seeing how people from different cultures react, visiting the country is very interesting.

But i've got a question, how do you manage to travel so much? How do you find enough money? Enough time ?

I'd like to know more about how the people react during the totality, ceremonies they make etc. Could send me more pictures? Like pictures of ambiance during eclipse, people landscape etc?

My mail: Max.litt@swing.be
Hoping you'll answer fast...
Bye.
Max.


Jennifer Dudley Winter

Floating somewhere inside our unconscious minds is a perfect place. We pass quickly through it each night on the way toward dreamland, momentarily conscious that the world around is free of the rules and laws inflicted by order and physics. We see things we know can't be real, and pleasure in watching these special effects of the mind. I have been shown the place on earth where this place is real. Where rules of order are bent and warped as we observe absurd happenings around us in awe and disbelief, within the path of a Total Solar Eclipse.

The plan and the journey sound just as absurd too, when we chose to plant ourselves in an invisible mathematical path in an empty spot on the plane of a distant country. I had seen the pictures, I had seen the movies, and watched reactions of others, but had no idea what I was about to experience.

Tensions built, anxiety heightened and whispers of anticipation grew into a near frenzied uproar in those who were destined to be there, as the magical day and hour approached. We prepared our equipment and tapped our feet, nervously pacing in anxious excitement. Having sold our shirts to endure resistance and conquer obstacles to reach this place, we each fret the possibility of failure up until that last real moment of first contact.

"No Clouds!". It's whispered. It's announced. It's shouted across the valley as the moon creeps invisibly closer to the disk of the sun. A timer beeps and releases the cry, "First Contact!" It's happening we know; but still we must wait.

I paced like an expectant father, impatient enough to discard the introduction and hurry ahead to the main event. But when I placed the glasses to my face and looked up at our disc, it began to hit me that I knew nothing. This was the same spot I had seen, examined and been accompanied by every day of my life, being snipped into, frame by frame from some invisible thing. As the back half of my brain was trying to rationalize how something could dominate our sun and be logically acceptable, the front half continued to see the oddities compound. I watched in disbelief as the temperature gauge we had set moved down through the numbers as if it were unplugged or malfunctioning. I wanted to shake it to be sure of what I saw. It was an illogical effect and was moved back to the shelf with the growing stack of improper observations.

As the light dimmed, into twilight, I noticed I was blinking and blinking to clear the fog from my eyes. The white stayed white, but color evaporated into the cooling air and disappeared with the degrees. No dimmer switch could make this odd light. No special effects crew stood behind the mountain with fans and switches.

I noticed over the mountain to the west, that a darkness of looming stormclouds was building and spreading toward us in mounting apprehension. But I knew there were no clouds. So, I had begun to absorb this peculiar display just as that little moment of bliss when our eyes are only shut long enough to drift away.

But this wasn't the end... It was only the beginning. That bizarre effect of light and dark and cool and still was only the introduction... Moans and screeches welled up in harmony in the crowd as the cold and dark grew just as our roller coaster car began to crest it's tallest hump.

The sky was now alive and celestial objects had grown the skill to slide and move visibly upon each other! The moon took one last breath and slid its body boldly over the sun in a magnificent act of glory! One last brilliant stream of light erupted in a heavenly spectacle from the sun as if in a final stabbing effort to defeat death. But only as brief as the moment of death, faster than the eye could perceive, these actors were replaced with a new mystical icon.

Wings of pure hypnotizing white light sprayed softly out from its body made of that hole where our logic had spilled. The crowd fell away and I was surrounded by utter muffled silence. It was real! It was happening! I could see it and feel it and hear the truth of what this event was and then fell to my knees in surrender and awe as the blind man healed now with divine power to see. I turned my head away to look around, blinking the stream of tears from my eyes and saw only more twilight reality frozen in time around me.

Scrambling to remember my tasks I had planned, I realized I was horribly derelict in my duties of recording the event. "I can see it!" I repeated, and reeled in the knowledge that the miraculous act of finding myself here was dwarfed by the magnitude and magnificence of the experience. So what was the point of snapping shots that can't represent the encompassing phenomenon of this moment?

I went ahead and wasted my time and performed my jobs as assigned, though only as far as necessary while frozen jaw down and eyes up at this "THING". But hark! I began to see detail. Molten ruby eruptions of glassy light swirled in pockets around the disk. I could notice the strings of soft flailing light had patterns pulling out from blackness - or in - you wouldn't know.

I remembered suddenly, to look for Venus in the dark sky and backed my focus away enough to glimpse the bright spark only quick enough to keep from blinking. Just as a leprechaun is bound by the ties of your stare, I didn't dare lose hold of this line of sight for it might blink away. I heard in the distance, the motorized clicks from our other cameras, then was returned to only the dim sound of solar wind against the water.

Shaking my head in disbelief, I could feel the bulge of anticipation as an inevitable end edged in upon us. First, a glow of discernible lightness crept in around the moon's edge. Then a spark, and just as sudden as the last, that giant shard of white crystal light burst triumphantly in the sun's ultimate victory. I watched it heave the exhausted moon over across itself and push it off to slide back away again.

More dramatic than a battle or sports victory, or the end of a pressing and involving tale, I turned my glance away in streaming tears, now needing to find the others and share our joy. We are a family of survivors now. Not survivors of the experience. Survivors of the life that we must endure knowing we are not in this place for more than those few fleeting moments. It was gone. The darkened room looked natural and normal as we floated around on the cold sand. Our measurements showed a 40-degree drop. So what. "Did you see that?" How rhetorical to ask, but everyone did. I looked back up again; but only forced to filter the sight with my protective goggles. It was slipping away. I blinked again and again, gawking up into the sky. "It happened! It was real!" The logical brain was now shouting to my skeptical consciousness.

So, we all wandered around in the euphoric glow of the dark, from embrace to smiling embrace. I could hear each sniffle and shout from the crowd that was only minutes earlier, as silent to me as the sea. We rewound our film and chuckled about or lapses in reason as we went about the careful preservation of our images. But then, with the disappointment of the child after all the presents are opened, I watched in growing dismay as all the cases and cameras and equipment were disassembled and packed quietly away into their trunks. The murmur of camaraderie wandered quietly away as the crowds moved to our waiting busses and dissolved into nothingness. "Come on, sweetie. It's time to go." He said, ten paces off. "You mean we're done?" I whined. It can't be over. It only lasted a second. I didn't want it to end and stood stubbornly for a moment, grieving the event's passing. I closed my eyes and wished so hard that I could place myself back onto that twilight zone.

But just like that perfect lucid dream state... I can't go back and will spend the next 18-month long day wishing my way toward that next accidental rift in space as it streams across us once again.

ICSTARS Astronomy


Phil Rusher

Mr. Katsiavriades,

I hope that this very belated account is acceptable almost ten years after the fact, because I could not resist, having thoroughly enjoyed reading your website account this morning.

I had read of the eclipse two years prior in Sky and Telescope and made my mind to go Cornwall. As it turned out, having arrived the day before at Heathrow, I made it as far as Dartmoor, where I camped for the night. Early on the 11th I made my way to Tavistock, heading down south, where as I had some breakfast, I found that the roads were jammed. So, reluctantly, though fortunately knowing that there would be totality in the park (a minute or so less than the Cornwall coast) I went back and walked to the top of the Tor just south of Grimspound, where 20 to 25 others had made their way also.

The sky was totally overcast, and this being my first total, was feeling quite discouraged. Seeing your photo of totality on the cliff at Wheal Coates brought back to my memory how truly amazing and surreal it was, even in the clouds! Your description of it as an inverse explosion is quite fitting. I described it to friends as, having been up on the Tor with a wide view in all directions, as the shadow, personified on the outside, made flesh so to speak!

The dogs that were with us began to howl as we all fell silent.Off in the distance the lights of Princetown prison came on and a couple of degrees of the horizon all the way around were lit in the most beautiful sunrise/sunset colors imaginable. Seeing the shadow coming at us at two thousand miles / hour growing larger with every second and then totality, as the roar of the Concorde overhead goes by, then in an instant the sky brightened once again to show how cloudy it was.

I have not been able to see another eclipse of the sun since, but I am greatly looking forward to seeing totality on a clear day before I have to leave. Even in the clouds it proved to be a most amazing sight, along with being in one of my favorite places on this planet, Dartmoor.

My name is Phil Rusher, and I live in northern California. I really appreciate you sharing your thoughts and pictures of this event. Now I will look through some of your other pages.


KryssTal Related Pages

The 1999 eclipse main page.

Photos of most of the people with us at the 1999 eclipse.

Large photos of the approach of the shadow and totality.

Some newspaper accounts and a children's drawing of the eclipse.

Pre-eclipse photos including the week before the eclipse in Cornwall.

Many people (friends and strangers) have sent their accounts of the 1999 eclipse to this web site. These are reproduced here.

An archive of all the information published on this web site about the 1999 eclipse.

This page features general emails sent to the KryssTal Eclipses web site. Incuded are comments about the web pages (both good and bad) as well as questions.