On Wednesday, August 11, 1999, a total eclipse of the Sun was visible from the Europe, the Middle East and south Asia. We couldn't pass up on this occasion: Europe will not see such an event again until 2081.
In order to observer te eclipse, we'd booked a trip to Austria. We stayed in a hotel near the village of Göstling an der Ybbs, about 65 km (40 miles) south of the highway between Linz and Vienna.
We chose to go to Austria for several reasons. Apart from the beautiful countryside, we wanted a sparsely populated area so we could travel easily if we had to move to another observation point. Also, in the event of low cloud, we could ascend one of the mountains nearby.
When we left home (August 6, well ahead of the traffic jams) our chances for a clear sky were between 55% and 75%, but the weather predictions got worse and worse. On the morning of Eclipse day the sky did not look good at all:
We even decided to head south, but the cloud cover only got worse, so we decided to return to the hotel and take our chances.
We sat down on the terrace, put the camera up and started waiting. The other guests had a barbecue and there was a folk band playing, but we just stayed where we were. I divided by time between taking photographs and anxiously looking if the weather changed.
Occasionally, there were holes in the clouds, so we managed to get glimpses of the sun as the eclipse progressed...
And another glimpse...
And another glimpse...
Then things got a little excited. At the instant of totality, a cloud passed in front of the sun. This provided us with the opportunity to observe our surroundings: the sky had gone black and there was an eerie light at the horizon. Patched of have and mist rose from the trees and the crickets started to buzz. The other hotel guest and the band had gone absolutely quiet. The tension was at a high.
Then, the cloud moved away...
There it was! Total Eclipse in all its glory!
After two minutes (we were nearly at the central line), the first ray of light emerged.
We got a beautiful view of the 'Diamond ring'.
Immediately after that, a big cloud moved in front of the sun, hiding the remainder of the eclipse from view. We didn't mind. After all, we'd seen what we'd wanted to see: Total Eclipse!
This was the gap in the clouds through which we saw Nature's splendid miracle. Needless to say we felt like the luckiest people in all of Austria... (especially when we heard there had been a 50 km traffic jam on the alternative route!)
(materials used: Minolta Maxxum 550 with remote shutter control, Sigma 300mm Zoom and 2x teleconverter, home-made mylar filter, 100 ASA Fuji Superia film)
Lots of info on these pages:
Solar Eclipse 1999 from Hermit.org
Fred Espenak's Eclipse Page (at Nasa)
Austrian 1999 eclipse info from Rudolf Aschauer.
(I will be in Austria to observe and photograph the eclipse)
Information in Dutch about the Zonsverduistering from Stichting De Koepel