Total Sun Eclipse on August 11. 1999

The e biggest celestial event of year 1999 we wait in town Oberwart (Austria), north from Vienna. In full loaded Audi 80 we carry Celestron 8, Maksutov-Cassegrain F500mm/D90mm, cameras Nikon F50, Minolta X700, Pentax ML1000, digital VCR Sony TRV110E and for any case, idiot Olympus and Zenit TTL.

Although we have cloudy weather, impression are strong. Here are remembrance of this Event.

Video of 1999. Total Sun Eclipse taken with Digital8 DCR Sony TRV110E.

We was stunning when Moon completely cover Sun disc and when we see red prominence all the way around the Sun's limb! (1/1000sec., MAK 500mm/f5,6)

On image right prominence are much more visible. I haven't take good picture of corona because of cloudy sky.(1/500sec., MAK 500mm/f5,6, w/o Mylar)

 

Images are taken with digital videocamera.

Impression

Because of the bad weather and because we were late we changed the initial plan to go to Siofok (Hungary) and went to Austria instead. We started the trip at 6 p.m. accompanied by clouds and a few drops of rain but well-equipped with telescopes Celestron 8, Maksutov-Cassegrain 500 mm/ f:5,6, cameras Nikon, Minolta. Pentax as well as with a digital video camera Sony DCR TRV 110E. Our group consisting of four enthusiasts - Mirko Knezic, Karolina Landripet, my wife Stella and me - were praying for better weather during our journey in the car that was far cheaper than the equipment we carried.

 

We hoped there would be no problems with the customs at the border crossing Macelj because of the expensive things we were taking to the foreign country i.e. the place where we were to observe the total eclipse. Fortunately the custom officers were full of understanding at all crossings and smiling enigmatically they expressed their hope we would reach the desired place on time so they let us through. Passing Graz and heading for Vienna we were looking through the sky-light without knowing the final destination. Mirko was our navigator and by using the GPS [audio-cassette as a ruler), the map of Austria that was bought at Sentilj and the coordinates found on Internet he picked up the small city Oberwart as our goal. According to our calculation the total phase would last there for two minutes. When we reached Oberwart we saw a lot of cars and people who took their places for observation and were busy preparing their optical devices for the show.

When we entered the town we found a parking place at the large car park where a few groups of Italians had already left their vehicles. I asked some of them if they had known the time of the first contact bin they had no idea. At half past ten everything was ready: the telescope adjusted and protected with obligatory Mylar filler, our video camera for recording the phases of the total eclipse, the Pentax with a 50 mm objective to catch the planets around the sun. The sky was covered with white scattered clouds coming from southeast and although they didn't make us very happy they enabled good visibility of the sun disk.

The neighbouring group of Italians prayed for good weather so we joined them in order to prevent the failure of n month's work consisting of testing exposure time, adjusting, choosing films and other necessary activities. Finally, at 11:24 according to me local time, the moon's edge started biting the sun's disc. Our Celestron 8 with the adjusted focus at 1300 mm was chosen together with the Nikon F50 to record details i.e. prominences and the Maksutov-Cassegrain 500 mm/f5,6 with the Minolta X700 placed on the back of the Celestron was chosen to record the solar corona.

 

Every five minutes we recorded the phases of the eclipse becoming more and more nervous as the time of the total eclipse was coming. The surrounding temperature kept falling down together with the Intensity of light. There was a feeling in the air of the approaching something that would hit us in no time without even noticing us. The birds flying high above our heads seemed restless and a few storks flew over us. The sun's sickle was becoming thinner and thinner.

Finally, at 12:45 as it was expected, the moon completely covered the sun trying to hide every ray penetrating from its edge between the moon's mountains. Everything became still, birds were gone, sounds hushed and we were covered by the darkness incomparable with anything else including the worst storm. I found just one term suitable to describe the event - the twilight of gods. Astonished as we were, we forgot to record those moments.

Then, soon after the beginning of the total eclipse, a malicious non-transparent, cloud, which was waiting in the distance until the right moment, covered the sun. It consumed a precious minute of our view at the beauty of outer solar atmosphere and during that time we became aware that it was getting colder and our bodies got goose pimples.

When the cloud moved at last, we were struck by the glow of the shiny corona and red prominences were waving at the edge of the disc reminding us on a dragoon throwing fire. People around were clapping and making enthusiastic exclamations. I am still not sure how I managed to take off the filters (which were a nuisance at that part of the phase - I learned that at the spot) and to take a few shots with my 500 mm telescope and video camera.

Two minutes and ten seconds passed in a nick of time. The glow from the sun's edge became stronger and the culmination was over (Minolta got almost baked before I put filters back). Everybody was silent for some time having his own impressions inside. Although capricious sky spoiled part of the total eclipse we were satisfied. We saw off the rest of the event with a strong feeling of veneration towards nature and forces of universe around us. I believe that secretly everybody would like to sec another event like that wherever it took place.

Translation thanks to Goranka Kovacic.