Awesome eclipses and others

Having just lived through my second eclipse ever, I decided to post this page before I forget about that 'unforgettable' 1999 eclipse. Reason: partial eclipses are not really that impressive, despite the hype in the press and media. If you get a chance go see the real thing, go and see a TOTAL eclipse. It might only happen once in a lifetime but is definitely worth the experience.

Below is the path of the March 20 2015 eclipse (google 'eclipse nasa'). As you can see the path of this total eclipse is mostly out in the ocean.

Anyway we had a view of the partial eclipse in Geneva, in a partially overcast day from around 9AM to 11AM on March 20, 2015. Maximum sun obstruction was about 80%.

Here are some pictures.

 

 

I took a shot with my DJI P2V drone and even tried to correct the raw image but without too much luck. Really need telephoto lens and filter.

 

And here are some pix of our viewing of a total eclipse in 1999 and the story behind it.

Exact path of 1999 eclipse

In the summer of 1999 we had heard that a total solar exclipse would occur within a 4 hours drive of where we live, precisely on August 11 at around noon time. So off we go heading north towards Strasbourg France. Half way there it seemed like the whole sothern part of Europe was driving up to the eclipse 'belt'... a path several hundred km wide and several thousand long. A total eclipse lasts only 2 to 4 minutes, so you have to be at the right place and at the right time. We thought we could rent a room nearby the night before. No way. Luckily we found a secluded hotel in the Vosges mountains another hour's drive away. Next morning there were cars and people everywhere, but we slowly drove up to that 2 mile wide magic line that is the perfect viewpoint for a total eclipse.
We were out in the country, on small roads, cars parked bumper to bumper and crowds in the fields setting out chairs and blankets. The countdown had started about an hour before the actual total eclipse and we expected things to get darker. It was a letdown. Not only that, but clouds were coming in fast out of the west. I looked up and estimated that in the next 15 minutes, at the time of the eclipse, we would be under clouds. So we hopped back in the car and drove where I estimated we'd have clear skies for about 10 minutes. We found a spot and 5 minutes before the total eclipse starts the sky was still bright and clear. Then exactly at the moment the moon covers the entire sun, it is like someone switching off the lights in a dark room. Birds stopped chirping and singing. There was a total silence. It became instantly colder. It was the eeriest feeling I had ever experienced. Time was like frozen. As I looked around on the horizon, because the sky above was black, I could see a thin line of light far away. No matter which direction I turned. A very, very strange sight. The moon shadow of a total eclipse is typically several hundred km in diameter. It's like a giant black round hat. And slowly but surely the 2 minutes 15 seconds were up and a fraction of a second later as a small portion of the sun re-appeared. It was as if someone had switched the lights back on. The brightness was astounding, almost blinding. It became warmer. Birds started chirping. Crowds in the distance were clapping and cheering and ooo'ing. We had just lived through an incredible life time experience. The next total eclipse in this region will occur in the year 2090.

 

As you can see from the pin hole box camera setup above, even with only 5% of the sun shining, it's still very bright. In the next few minutes the sky will turn totally dark.

And moments after the total eclipse and the sudden temperature drop...

the bright sun shines again :-)