Solar eclipse of August 11, 1999

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Solar eclipse of August 11, 1999
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

A total solar eclipse occurred on 11 August 1999 with an eclipse magnitude of 1.0286. 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);[1][2][3] 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.

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
Interactive map of the path of the Umbral Shadow

Because of the high population densities in areas of the path, this was one of the most-viewed total solar eclipses in human history;[4] 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.[5] 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. 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.
  • 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.
  • Also at sea, many of the Fastnet fleet contestants encountered totality crossing the Celtic Sea on the way to the Fastnet Rock.[6]
  • 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.[7]
  • 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.[8]
  • 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.[9]


Notable times and coordinates[edit]

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[10]
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[11]
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

Related eclipses[edit]

Eclipses of 1999[edit]

Solar eclipses 1997–2000[edit]

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.[12]

Solar eclipse series sets from 1997–2000
Descending node   Ascending node
Saros Map Gamma Saros Map Gamma

Chita, Russia
1997 March 09

0.91830 125 1997 September 02

Partial (south)

Total eclipse near Guadeloupe
1998 February 26

0.23909 135 1998 August 22

140 1999 February 16

−0.47260 145

Totality from France
1999 August 11

150 2000 February 05

Partial (south)
−1.22325 155 2000 July 31

Partial (north)

Partial solar eclipses on July 1, 2000 and December 25, 2000 occur in the next lunar year eclipse set.

Saros 145[edit]

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.

Series members 10–32 occur between 1801 and 2359
10 11 12

April 13, 1801

April 24, 1819

May 4, 1837
13 14 15

May 16, 1855

May 26, 1873

June 6, 1891
16 17 18

June 17, 1909

June 29, 1927

July 9, 1945
19 20 21

July 20, 1963

July 31, 1981

August 11, 1999
22 23 24

August 21, 2017

September 2, 2035

September 12, 2053
25 26 27

September 23, 2071

October 4, 2089

October 16, 2107
28 29 30

October 26, 2125

November 7, 2143

November 17, 2161
31 32 33

November 28, 2179

December 9, 2197

December 21, 2215
34 35 36

December 31, 2233

January 12, 2252

January 22, 2270
37 38 39

February 2, 2288

February 14, 2306

February 25, 2324

March 8, 2342

Metonic series[edit]

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.

22 eclipse events between January 5, 1935 and August 11, 2018
January 4-5 October 23-24 August 10-12 May 30-31 March 18-19
111 113 115 117 119

January 5, 1935

August 12, 1942

May 30, 1946

March 18, 1950
121 123 125 127 129

January 5, 1954

October 23, 1957

August 11, 1961

May 30, 1965

March 18, 1969
131 133 135 137 139

January 4, 1973

October 23, 1976

August 10, 1980

May 30, 1984

March 18, 1988
141 143 145 147 149

January 4, 1992

October 24, 1995

August 11, 1999

May 31, 2003

March 19, 2007
151 153 155

January 4, 2011

October 23, 2014

August 11, 2018

Popular culture[edit]

  • Sleeping Sun (1999), by the Finnish band Nightwish
  • Les Terriens (2000), French documentary directed by Ariane Doublet
  • Les Ensoleillés (2002), compilation of around twenty short stories based on the 1999 eclipse, written by Joël Egloff

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Stavinschi, M., National Seminar" The total solar Eclipse of August, 11, 1999. Interdisciplinary approach, Bucharest, October 15, 1998 in: Romanian Astron. J., vol.8, N.2, p.146 (1998)
  2. ^ Scientific session " Eclipsa 99", Romanian Astronomical Journal, vol.9, N.1, p.103 (1999)
  3. ^ Stavinschi, M., The maximum of the last eclipse of the Millenium was in Romania, Romanian Astronomical Journal, , vol.9, N.2, p.109- 114, 1999
  4. ^ "Solar show in sky or on the Internet". 10 August 1999.
  5. ^ "ISMB 99". Retrieved 2013-10-01.
  6. ^ "Boats warned of freak winds during eclipse". Guardian. 7 June 1999. Archived from the original on 17 October 2015.
  7. ^ Hatherill, Chris (9 March 2016). "When Astronomers Chased a Total Eclipse in a Concorde". Vice. Retrieved 10 March 2016.
  8. ^ Janković, Vladimir (July 2010). "Atmosfear: Slobodan Milošević versus 1999 Solar Eclipse". Centre for the History of Science, Technology of Medicine.
  9. ^ Dobson, Roger (1999-08-21). "UK hospitals assess eye damage after solar eclipse". The BMJ. 319 (7208): 469. doi:10.1136/bmj.319.7208.469. PMC 1116382. PMID 10454393.
  10. ^ "Eclipse2017 - Total Solar Eclipse 2017".
  11. ^ "Eclipse2017 - Total Solar Eclipse 2017".
  12. ^ 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.