In August 1999 the CSC team set out to watch and photograph the Solar eclipse.

THE TEAM: Sarah Hogben, Jonathan Hare, Robbie Eggen, Sasha Eggen and Bernd Eggen

THE LOCATION: South West Germany (near Baden Baden)


Monday 9th August
Sarah and Jonathan meet up with Bernd, Sasha and Robert at Zurich airport. Unfortunately our bags decided to go somewhere else and we had to wait in Zurich for several hours. Ate lovely kuchen (cherry and almond cake courtesy of Bernd and Sasha) by the river and admired the stylish cosmopolitan feel of Zurich. Finally get our bags back and head off to Villingen near the Black Forest to stay one night with Bernds parents. Very stormy as we drive up into Germany - not good weather for stars, sky and eclipse watching !

Tuesday 10th
We drove from the Black Forest to near Baden Baden on the full eclipse line. The motorways were very packed and at times the traffic was at a stand still. After trying, and failing, to find spare room at a number of camp sites we were beginning to get worried we would not find a place for the night. Luckly we heard about someone who was living, for the summer months, in a small wooden shack in a nearby forest (used for sporting activities). They let us pitch our tents in a meadow, a lovely spot adjacent to the river Rhein and near to a lake, surrunded by large beautiful trees. In principle this was a good location for eclipse watching. Unfortunatly the weather was mostly cloudy with some rain.

Two Danish people also join us on the camp site, we asked them "are you here to see the eclipse ". They replyed "No, No, No - we are here to see the eclipse" (!?)

Wednesday 11 August 1999
The skies around our camp site had gone fully cloudy overnight. But as the morning progresses the clouds thin and blue patches appear. Bernd went skinny dipping in the lake whilst we brave the cold water tap in the field to wash ! Wild herons in the area ...
Set up the monocular on a make shift tripod so that it projects the Sun's image onto a screen. The screen and shadow device were made from a cut-up cereal box while the tripod was made-up out of tent poles, Sarah's hair bands and Robbie's baby toy as a counter balance. Take lots of photos and get some admiring comments from other eclipse watchers. We see the first contact through the solar specs and through the projector. Suns projected image about 1.5 cm in size - very clear. The clouds were on and off but we manage to follow the half hour or so till the full eclipse. Just before total the clouds covered the Sun but were thin enough to clearly show the bright crescent.

Robbie drinks too much, falls asleep and misses the eclipse !
Over the next five mins the light became less and less. The cloud cover added a little to the tension - will we see the total eclipse ? Every one gets very excited and it all feels very odd and eery. Usually at sunset the light becomes red and dim but during the eclipse the light was cold blue, almost like Moonlight. I dont think there was enough light to cast shadows. Everything went very still. Then by very good fortune the clouds parted for perhaps a second and we saw a glimpse of the full eclipse - a dark Moon with a ring of firey light. I stumbled around to look for a small bottle of champagne that I had been given on the flight over. We all cuddled and felt very close, united by the eery wonderful light. Very quickly the 'diamond ring' appeared, the clouds came over and we lost sight of the Sun - that was the end of the total eclipse. We finished off the plonk and continued to watch the progress through the specs and the projector till none of the Sun was 'missing'.

Other eclipse watchers have reported that it got very cold at totality, we didn't feel a great drop in temperature but perhaps this was because of the cloud cover at our location. I think we all felt that the eery light was the most memorable event while the split second glimpse of totality was rather like a dream - did we really see it ?

Photos (below):
On this site are a number of photos as well as a diagram of the projection equipment. The photos clearly show the Moon eclipsing the Sun at various stages. On one photo the eclipse light went past a tree on its way to the projector and so the tree has also been projected onto the screen - its rather nice.

Out Thanks too:
The team would like to thank Thomas for leting us camp in his meadow - we would have been really stuck if not for you - thanks.

Newspaper stories around the Eclipse
local radio and newspaper reports at the time:
* riots in Karlsruhe as several thousand people try to get hold of a few hundred free eclipse specs
* similar scenes at Freiberg train station, where hundreds of people were left on platforms as trains going to the city's 'eclipse zone' were overcrowded and did not have any spare capacity.

The end of an exciting field trip ....



Dr Jonathan Hare, CSC, The University of Sussex
Brighton, East Sussex. BN1 9QJ

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