Since 16 March 1999. Updated 11 August 1999.


The Total Solar Eclipse of August 11, 1999

My own story


It's now about two hours since the total eclipse of the sun and I will try to recall my experience. Without doubt this was one of the most fantastic things I've ever experienced. But lets start from the beginning.

Not far from were I live in München is a park called Ostpark, I thought it would be a great place to watch the eclipse. Only one problem, the weather. Yesterday it rained before lunch and after lunch the weather got better, but there was still worries. The weather forecast for today was not so good. There is a low-pressure over Europe sitting right on top of München. Rain tomorrow too, they say.

At 11am on August 11th, I went down to Ostpark. The first contact will start then and it will take 1 hour and 40 minutes until totally. I didn't managed to get the special sun glasses needed, they were sold out everywhere, so I didn't know how much I would be able to see. I - of cause - couldn't look directly into the sun, even with my regular sun glasses. It was not raining, in fact the sun was shining occasionally, but 80-90% of the sky covered with clouds, some very dark. I sat down on the lawn in the park, reading a book and watching the clouds in the sky. Suddenly it starts rain but it went away after five minutes.

40 min before 40 min before
40 minutes before

After about half-an-hour, virtually "nothing" has happened. It was still light, and if it was darker I couldn't tell if it was because of the clouds hiding the sun or because of the eclipse. The sun was still bright despite of being covered by about 45% by now. Suddenly, the clouds came to my assistance. While the sun was at the edge of the clouds, it was not so strong and I could see the eclipse without the special glasses. Indeed, the sun is covered by something, the moon. Amazing!

About 40 minutes before the total eclipse the daylight is clearly fading, like if the sun was a little bit sick, slowly it gets darker all the time. The clouds still comes and goes and I have had three short showers in total. The last shower comes about 20 minutes before totality will happen. It looks like a piece of the blue sky will come over us right on time but I'm still not 100% sure. I take some snapshots with my camera, mostly when the sun is in the edge of the clouds, It still strong in open sky and it looks like this is what will give the best results.

20 min before 20 min before
20 minutes before

Ten minutes before the total eclipse it's so dark my camera requires the flash in order to take photos. I look around, there is a lot of people here in Ostpark and I can clearly here the murmur rising with the excitement of the moment. By now I'm up in speed myself too. I can see some swallows flying away in the sky, together many of them, they noticed something is going on too. As you understand from my camera it's darker now, like twilight.

10 min before 10 min before
10 minutes before

With five minutes left I'm more confident about the clouds. I have by now studied their movements for 1,5 hours, and I'm certain we will have a clear blue sky during the total eclipse, very lucky. Only a small thin edge of the sun remains, I'm in another world.

5 min before 5 min before
5 minutes before

Something like 30 seconds left it quickly gets very much darker, like if somebody was turning out the light, and I take what would be the last photos of the eclipse. The public in the park starts to shout for joy, whistling, cheering, louder and louder the more the sun disappears.

1 min before 1 min before
Less then 1 minute before totality. Note on the right photo the weak reflection in my camera of the sun in the upper right corner. Only a thin line is left now.

Suddenly a flash hits my eyes, it's the very first moment of totality, the famous Diamond ring, second contact. One single bright light at the left edge of the sun, quickly fading like a candle light, gone two seconds later. The sun is completely covered, we have a total eclipse of the sun. Everybody is applauding, and then they stop.

The total ecslipse of the sun as seen from the horizon of Münich

I don't know how to describe what I see, it's absolutely staggering. It's almost completely dark now, 12.38pm. The clouds are red like in the sunset, it's absolutely quiet, the wind stopped completely to blow, it's cold and I can see the stars in the sky. I'm so exited I have no idea of were I am, and my camera sits beside me doing nothing. Two minutes feels like an eternity. The dark moon is bigger then I expected, and around it is this big halo of the sun, the corona. Somebody have said the sun and moon is making love now, I can agree about that.

I feel like I can sit here and watch forever, but two minutes goes quickly after all. The diamond ring appears again, now on the right side of the sun, this is the third contact. The light comes back quickly and people in the park starts to applaud again, this magnificent event. The wind hits my face and it's first now I realised the wind was gone during totality. Everything happens again in reverse order, the light comes back more and more for the next 40 minutes. I walk home again, shaken and very moved. This was truly one the most exiting things I ever seen; so fast, so wonderful.

As soon as my pictures are developed I'll put them here fir you to view as well.

You can read my article about sun eclipses here.


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