Solar Eclipse on August 11, 1999


[1998 Eclipse photo]

The Eclipsed Sun on February 26, 1998 - Click on the map to obtain full-scale version (JPEG, 176k). Composite of 12 images taken with a 78 mm diameter f/8 Takahashi Fluorite refractor; exposure times from 1 sec to 1/1000 sec. Observations by Stephane Guisard (ESO La Silla) on the island of Guadeloupe. Composite made with Photoshop by Pierre Guillermier.

Read Adalbert Stifter's "Die Sonnenfinsternis am 8. Juni 1842" (in German) - also in ASCII-format.

The ESO Headquarters in Garching (Bavaria, Germany) are located very near the line of maximum totality, about halfway between the cities of Munich and Freising.

The present website is specifically concerned with the viewing opportunities and related events in this geographical area.

The ESO Headquarters are not open for the public on this day. The next Open House Day is on Sunday, October 10, 1999.

Links to public eclipse events in Munich and in the neighbouring geographical regions are available below.

Latest News

August 18, 1999

comprehensive report about this event,
as seen from the ESO HQ in Garching, and with many photos of the eclipse,
is now available on the ESO web.

August 12, 1999 - the day thereafter

About 500 people watched the eclipse from ESO HQ. The view of the event was as described in the dispatches below. From the reports from sites along the totality band across Europe, it appears that we were reasonably lucky. The weather was not so good further to the west - it was better in the south-east corner of Bavaria and we were near the border in between.

Some ESO people and their friends took photos. We will put some of them on display at this website in due time.

It was a very special experience for all of us. And it was certainly a unique day in ESO history!

Carolyn Collins Petersen from "Sky & Telescope" participated in the conference at ESO and watched the eclipse from the "Bürgerplatz" in Garching, about 1.5 km south of the ESO HQ. She managed to see part of the totality phase. You will find her dramatic report(s) at the S&T Eclipse Expedition website.

There has been severe web congestion during the past days, due to the eclipse. This webpage had about 20,000 hits yesterday and there were also very many on the "Astronomy On-line" Eclipse site.

August 11, 1999, 13:00 CEST (11:00 UT)

It is over! We were partially lucky in the sense that we saw the almost eclipsed Sun up to about 10 minutes before totality and then again just when the second "diamond ring" appeared at the end of totality. Then the skies were almost clear and we could follow the partial phase. We are told that just 5 km from here, people were more lucky and saw the entire total phase. But the whole atmosphere was fantastic - we had all the local effects, the darkness, the cold wind and the silence. We were all very impressed!

August 11, 1999, 12:00 CEST (10:00 UT)

The eclipse is well underway in Garching. The sky is heavily clouded, but we have seen the eclipsed Sun through several holes, as the Moon gradually moves in front. Just now, another heavy cloud is moving in front, but there is hope in the form of another clear hole behind!

August 11, 1999, 07:45 CEST (05:45 UT)

[METEOSAT 11.08.99:02:30 UT - Water Vapour]

METEOSAT - water vapour - 02:30 UT (August 11)

[METEOSAT 11.08.99:05:00 UT - Infrared]

METEOSAT - infrared - 05:00 UT (August 11)

The chances in the München area have improved somewhat. See the above METEOSAT images, obtained in a water vapour band at 02:30 UT (04:30 local time) this morning (left) and an infrared band at 05:00 UT (07:00 local time) this morning (right). The main concern is an approaching front - will it reach München before the eclipse? The better chances are now further east, nearer the Austrian border.

August 10, 1999, 18:00 CEST (16:00 UT)

Note the most recent special forecast for the München region (August 11) that appears slightly more optimistic ("Schauerwolken am Vormittag, mittags vereinzelt Aufheiterungen, nachmittags eine Mischung aus Sonne und Wolken bei 20 Grad").

August 10, 1999, 11:00 CEST (09:00 UT)

The weather forecast is unfortunately rather desolate for the Munich region - indeed for most of Southern Germany and Austria. There is almost complete agreement among the various sources of meteorological forecasts that a front with bad weather will be passing across Central Europe tomorrow, the day of the eclipse.

The estimated percentage chance that the Sun may be visible during the eclipse is only about 20% in München and even less east of this city, immediately north of the Alps (e.g. in Salzburg). The prospect of clear skies increases somewhat towards the west and may reach about about 50% in western France. Towards the east, there should be up to 70% chance east of Budapest.

You may follow the development of the weather front in a METEOSAT-IR mpeg movie that is regularly updated.

Useful Information

Images and videos

Look at the
Latest solar images and videos 
from the
Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) spacecraft

Meteosat-6 (EUMETSAT) will produce
images in 10-min intervals 
that show the motion of the shadow of the Moon (umbral spot) across the surface of the Earth.

Have you seen 
ESO Press Video eso9935 
with impressions from the ESO solar eclipse expedition in 1994?

ESO Video News Reel No. 7 for broadcasters is ready!


The educational Astronomy On-Line Programme is now active again in connection with the total solar eclipse on August 11, 1999!

The European Association for Astronomy Education (EAAE)invites all interested schools and amateur astronomers inside and outside the totality zone to observe this unique phenomenon. All observers can join the simple, but interesting projects.


TV transmissions

The eclipse will be transmitted by most national TV and radio stations. Here are a few links where you may wish to check the programme for Wednesday August 11, 1999:

  • ARD
  • ZDF
  • BR3 - see also the elaborate presentation of the event at this website!
  • ARTE


Announcements of live transmission of the eclipse on the web have been made by:

How will the weather be?

Information about the local weather and forecast for the next days:


On this occasion, from August 7 to 13, 1999, ESO is hosting a meeting on Research Amateur Astronomy in the VLT Era , jointly organized with the solar section of the German amateur astronomers society (Vereinigung der Sternfreunde, VdS).

More information is available at the Conference website.


Read this advice before you watch the eclipse!

English [pdf;39k] ---- Deutsch [pdf;11k]

Eclipse Path and Circumstances

[Eclipse path]


Eclipse path through Southern Germany - Click on the map to obtain full-scale version (JPEG, 264k).
Map from F. Espenak's eclipse website.

The total phase of the eclipse in Garching will begin at about 12:37 local time (10:37 UT) and the total phase will last about 2 min 15 sec. The altitude of the Sun above the horizon will be about 56o. According to available weather statistics, it is estimated that there is about 50% chance of seeing the eclipsed Sun in the sky without interfering clouds.

See also a large-scale map of Bavaria with the zone of totality.

[Eclipse in Munich]


From F. Espenak's eclipse website.

This table displays the circumstances of the eclipse when seen in Munich, some 15 km south of Garching.

Complete information about this eclipse, with all tables and maps, may be found at Fred Espenak's eclipse site

See also the comprehensivespecial page from DWD (in German).


Motion of the Umbral Spot

The motion of the umbral spot (i.e. the area in which the eclipse is total) is illustrated on two video sequences that have been prepared with theRedshift 3 software. They are available at this website by special license (© Maris Multimedia 1994-1999 and its licensors all rights reserved) in two versions of different sizes in .avi format (to be played with Quick Timeor Microsoft Media Player). Compressed versions (.zip) are also available for convenience.

Important Links, Etc.

Arrangements and Events in Munich

Quite a few events are organised in the Munich area in connection with this total eclipse. You will find more information about these at the respective websites:

Other Arrangements in the Region

Here are a few links to other eclipse websites about observing opportunities in neighbouring geographical regions:

Lists of Eclipse Links

Comprehensive lists of links to many European sites are available at:

  • "SONNE - Total Eclipse 99"
  • "Hermit - 1999"


A TV test image

[The Sun on July 29, 1999, at 12:30 UT - Test TV frame - JPEG 208k]

A test sequence of solar images was made with a professional TV camera and a special filter from outside the ESO building on July 29, 1999. Here is one of the frames, as an example. Several sunspots are seen.

The Sun on July 29, 1999, at 12:30 UT. Test TV frame from ESO HQ (Garching, Germany)