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The August 11th, 1999 Total Solar Eclipse

Click on any of the small previews to get the full images.

On these two photographs you can see out solar eclipse setup at the Pretulalpe, and sky conditions can be guessed.
Yes, that's me sitting beside the 8" SCT, the big black scope... ☺

The telescopes utilized were:

Three photographic cameras and one video camcorder were used.

All solar photographs shown here were taken with the 8" SCT. Exposure times for all photographs were either 1/1000 or 1/500 second, with the exception of the corona photograph (degraded by the shaking mount), the exposure time of this photo was 1/2 second. Shortly before second contact the filter was removed, and reapplied after third contact. The film used was Fujicolor Superia 100. The pictures are correctly orientated, exactly as sun and moon were in the sky. North is up.

Partial Phase I Photographs:

Second Contact Photographs:

Zoom-in on Bailey's Beads and Prominences during 2nd Contact:

Totality Photographs:

Partial Phase II Photographs:

Interesting normal-lens photographs during the eclipse:

Left: Last sunrays moments before 2nd contact; Right: Horizon during totality.

The complete eclipse in one 50mm photograph, often interrupted by clouds.

Here follows a short observation report of the solar eclipse. If you understand German, you can read a more extensive one here.

Observation Report

The observing site I did choose for viewing the 1999 Total Solar Eclipse was the Pretulalpe in Styria, Austria, a mountain in the Austrian Alps rising 1653m above sea level. It is located at 15° 45' East and 47° 33' North, only a few kilometers north of the eclipse's central path. The Pretulalpe is a well-known observing site where in the best nights the naked-eye limiting star magnitude approaches 7th magnitude, but the weather up there can change quite rapidly from good observing conditions to rain in a few minutes. There is a good inn up there, the Rosseggerhaus, where one can get a good meal before observing and also a bed for the night.

Weather forcasts for Austria for Wednesday, the 11th of August, were rather bad, nonetheless we (a friend of mine and I) did drive up there the evening before the great event. The sky was clear and we did a lot of observing that night until 2 o'clock in the morning. We left the mount standing as it was, accurately polar aligned, and went to bed.

The next morning started with rain, but after breakfast the raining stopped and sky conditions looked as if they might become better. Phonecalls to other observers scattered along the eclipse's path persuaded me that the weather was very much the same everywhere in Austria and one observing site was as good as any other, so we stayed. We didn't even see the sun at all until shortly before first contact, which happened at 9:22:43 UT. There was a strong wind from the northwest, and the temperature was quite low, not more than 10 degrees Celsius, so we needed warm winter clothes in mid-summer.

Between first and second contact we could observe the sun for most of the time, but only through thin clouds, and twice it seemed as if it might start raining any moment, but fortunately it didn't. We did take photographs and some videotaping whenever the clouds were thin enough.

Shortly before second contact (10:44:40 UT) conditions improved a little bit, but still we did observe the sun through thin clouds. The light became stangely yellow, and than went out completely within unusual short time. There was a spectacular diamond ring to be seen which I hastened to photograph. During totality several pink-red colored pominences could be observed in the telescope nearly all around the moon's limb, they were a superb sight in my 4" apochromatic refractor which we used for visual observing. Because of the clouds not much could be seen of the solar corona. Venus was seen south-east of the sun, but no other planets or stars were bright enough to pierce through the clouds. The 2 minutes 19 seconds of totality were altogether much too short and seemed only like a few seconds, to this everyone agreed. Indeed 30 seconds were "stolen" from totality at our site because of a thick cloud passing through, during which I found time to observe the yellowish horizon (and answer questions like "Can I now take off those dark eclipse glasses?" ☺). The short-time photographs taken during second contact were a success, but I had no luck with long-time exposures during totality: The wind, which remained strong, shook the 8" telescope and these pictures were thus spoiled. Well, this was my first total solar eclipse, maybe next time... ☺

Totality ended at 10:46:59 UT with another diamond ring just like the first. After that the sunlight quickly returned to normal, and because the Pretulalpe offers a wide view to the south-east, we could see the shadow moving away from our site towards Burgenland at the border to Hungary. Then at last the clouds broke and the sky was clear for some time, and it became warm. Most people which had observed totality at the Pretul left than, but we did some interesting observations of the solar spots (seeing was quite good) and continued photographing and videotaping until forth contact (12:08:51 UT), which was again hidden by new incoming clouds.

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