Solar eclipse of August 11, 1999

A total solar eclipse occurred on 11 August 1999 with an eclipse magnitude of 1.029. A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between Earth and the Sun, thereby totally or partly obscuring the image of the Sun for a viewer on Earth. A total solar eclipse occurs when the Moon's apparent diameter is larger than the Sun's, blocking all direct sunlight, turning day into darkness. Totality occurs in a narrow path across Earth's surface, with the partial solar eclipse visible over a surrounding region thousands of kilometres wide. The path of the Moon's shadow began in the Atlantic Ocean and, before noon, was traversing the southern United Kingdom, northern France, Belgium, Luxembourg, southern Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary, and northern FR Yugoslavia (Vojvodina). The eclipse's maximum was at 11:03 UTC at 45°06′N 24°18′E / 45.1°N 24.3°E / 45.1; 24.3 in Romania (next to a town called Ocnele Mari near Râmnicu Vâlcea); and it continued across Bulgaria, the Black Sea, Turkey, northeastern tip of Syria, northern Iraq, Iran, southern Pakistan and Srikakulam in India and ended in the Bay of Bengal.

Solar eclipse of August 11, 1999
Solar eclipse 1999 4 NR.jpg
Totality from France
Type of eclipse
Maximum eclipse
Duration143 sec (2 m 23 s)
Coordinates45°06′N 24°18′E / 45.1°N 24.3°E / 45.1; 24.3
Max. width of band112 km (70 mi)
Times (UTC)
Greatest eclipse11:04:09
Saros145 (21 of 77)
Catalog # (SE5000)9506

It was the first total eclipse visible from Europe since 22 July 1990, and the first visible in the United Kingdom since 29 June 1927.


The eclipse as seen from France

Because of the high population densities in areas of the path, this was one of the most-viewed total solar eclipses in human history;[1] although some areas in the path of totality (mainly in Western Europe) offered impaired visibility due to adverse weather conditions.

Some of the organized eclipse-watching parties along the path of totality set up video projectors on which people could watch the Moon's shadow as it raced towards them.[2] There was substantial coverage on International TV stations of the progress of the eclipse shadow. The Moon's shadow was also observed from the Russian Mir space station; during the eclipse, video from Mir was broadcast live on television.

  • The BBC concentrated its coverage efforts on the first landfall of the shadow across the western end of Cornwall (from St Ives to Lizard), which was packed with an extraordinary number of visitors, although Cornwall did not have nearly as many as expected leading to many specially organised events being left with very small attendance. The veteran amateur astronomer, broadcaster and eclipse-watcher Patrick Moore was brought in to head a live programme, but the eclipse was clouded out. BBC One also produced a special version of their Balloon Idents for the event. The BBC did not have a presence at Goonhilly on the Lizard Peninsula, one of the few places in Cornwall where the clouds parted just in time for the total eclipse to be visible.
  • Some of the best viewing conditions were to be had mid-Channel, where ferries were halted in calm conditions to obtain an excellent view. Hundreds of people who gathered on the island of Alderney also experienced the event. There was extensive cloud in Perranporth which parted just in time, allowing the very large crowd that filled the beach and hillsides to witness the event.
  • A gathering of several thousand people at the airport in Soissons, France, which was on the path of totality, were denied all but a few fleeting glimpses of the eclipse through the overcast sky. The clouds cleared completely just a few minutes after the eclipse.
  • In contrast, the overcast sky in Amiens, France, where thousands had gathered, cleared only minutes before the eclipse began.
  • Further inland, viewing conditions were also perfect at Vouziers, a French country town gridlocked by Belgian cars from day-visitors. The patchy cloud covering cleared a short time before the shadow arrived. Some photos from Vouziers were used on the subsequent BBC Sky at Night programme.
  • The San Francisco Exploratorium featured a live webcast from a crowded town square in Amasya, Turkey.
  • Doordarshan, the national TV channel in India, broadcast live coverage from Srikakulam, hosted by the TV personality Mona Bhattacharya.
  • A Bulgarian Air Force MiG-21 two-seater was used by the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences to study the solar corona. The MiG-21, flying at 1600–1700 km/h (M=1,4-1,5) at an altitude of 13,000 m, was able to stay in the Moon's umbra for 6 min. The photographer, an air force pilot, used two film cameras, both fitted with 200 mm lenses and infrared filters, and one Digital8 video camera.
  • Hungary's most popular tourist destination, Lake Balaton and its surrounding area, fell into the path of the eclipse entirely, which made the area even more popular for that day. The motorway leading there was so crowded, many people had to watch the eclipse while caught in a traffic jam.
  • One French and two British Concordes briefly followed the eclipse with tourists on board.[3]
  • The BBC was filming one of its episodes for its TV series Airport that day and, during the show, resident press officers Russell Clisby and Steve Meller took photographs of the eclipse at Heathrow Airport, as well as Aeroflot supervisor Jeremy Spake witnessing the eclipse on a special charter flight.
  • RTS, the national public broadcaster of Serbia, urged people to remain inside, citing dangers to public health. This caused the streets of all Serbian cities, towns and villages to be entirely deserted during the eclipse, with many opting to watch it on TV instead.[4]
  • The BMJ a month after the eclipse reported only 14 cases of eye damage from improper viewing of the eclipse, a number lower than initially feared. In one of the most serious cases the patient had looked at the Sun without eye protection for twenty minutes, but overall the public health campaign had succeeded.[5]


Notable times and coordinatesEdit

Animated path
Special 2,000 lei note made for the 1999 total eclipse of the Sun, showing the eclipse path over the map of Romania
Event Time (UTC) Coordinates[6]
1st penumbral contact with Earth's surface (P1) 08:26:17
1st external umbral contact (U1) 09:29:55 41°2.0′N 65°5.4′W / 41.0333°N 65.0900°W / 41.0333; -65.0900
2nd internal umbral contact (U2) 09:30:53 43°0.1′N 57°55.8′W / 43.0017°N 57.9300°W / 43.0017; -57.9300
Greatest eclipse 11:03:07 45°4.8′N 24°17.3′E / 45.0800°N 24.2883°E / 45.0800; 24.2883[7]
3rd internal umbral contact (U3) 12:35:33 19°39.7′N 80°20.4′E / 19.6617°N 80.3400°E / 19.6617; 80.3400
4th external umbral contact (U4) 12:36:26 17°33.5′N 87°17.1′E / 17.5583°N 87.2850°E / 17.5583; 87.2850
4th penumbral contact with Earth's surface (P4) 13:40:08

Type of the eclipseEdit

Nature of the eclipse Total
Gamma 0.5063
Magnitude 1.0286
Duration at greatest eclipse point 143 s (2 min 23 s) at 11:03:07 UTC, in Romania: 45°04′48″N 24°17′18″E / 45.08000°N 24.28833°E / 45.08000; 24.28833
Maximum pathwidth 112.3 km

Related eclipsesEdit

Eclipses of 1999Edit

Solar eclipses 1997–2000Edit

This eclipse is a member of a semester series. An eclipse in a semester series of solar eclipses repeats approximately every 177 days and 4 hours (a semester) at alternating nodes of the Moon's orbit.[8]

Saros 145Edit

This solar eclipse is a part of Saros cycle 145, repeating every 18 years, 11 days, 8 hours, containing 77 events. The series started with a partial solar eclipse on January 4, 1639, and reached a first annular eclipse on June 6, 1891. It was a hybrid event on June 17, 1909, and total eclipses from June 29, 1927, through September 9, 2648. The series ends at member 77 as a partial eclipse on April 17, 3009. The longest eclipse will occur on June 25, 2522, with a maximum duration of totality of 7 minutes, 12 seconds. All eclipses in this series occurs at the Moon’s ascending node.

Metonic seriesEdit

The metonic series repeats eclipses every 19 years (6939.69 days), lasting about 5 cycles. Eclipses occur in nearly the same calendar date. In addition, the octon subseries repeats 1/5 of that or every 3.8 years (1387.94 days). All eclipses in this table occur at the Moon's ascending node.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Solar show in sky or on the Internet".
  2. ^ "ISMB 99". Retrieved 2013-10-01.
  3. ^ Hatherill, Chris (9 March 2016). "When Astronomers Chased a Total Eclipse in a Concorde". Vice. Retrieved 10 March 2016.
  4. ^ "Atmosfear: Slobodan Milošević versus 1999 Solar Eclipse". Centre for the History of Science, Technology of Medicine. July 2010.
  5. ^ Dobson, Roger (1999-08-21). "UK hospitals assess eye damage after solar eclipse". The BMJ. 319: 469. doi:10.1136/bmj.319.7208.469. PMC 1116382. PMID 10454393.
  6. ^ "Eclipse2017 - Total Solar Eclipse 2017".
  7. ^ "Eclipse2017 - Total Solar Eclipse 2017".
  8. ^ van Gent, R.H. "Solar- and Lunar-Eclipse Predictions from Antiquity to the Present". A Catalogue of Eclipse Cycles. Utrecht University. Retrieved 6 October 2018.