BBC NEWS
BBCi CATEGORIES   TV   RADIO   COMMUNICATE   WHERE I LIVE   INDEX    SEARCH 

BBC News UK Edition
 You are in: Science/Nature: Specials: Total Eclipse  
News Front Page
World
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
UK Politics
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
Education
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
CBBC News
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Total Eclipse Tuesday, 24 August, 1999, 11:53 GMT 12:53 UK
European watchers faced eclipse lottery
Most found that, as the broadcasters had predicted, the best view was on TV
One of the best views could be had on TV
As the shadow of the eclipse sped its way across northern Europe, eclipse watchers were left at the mercy of the weather to determine the quality of the view.

In Stuttgart and Munich, totality proved a total washout
In Stuttgart and Munich, totality proved a total washout
In Cornwall in south west England - the first land to experience totality - cloudy skies and periodic rain obscured the view but failed to dampen enthusiasm.

The last eclipse of the millennium was greeted with fireworks, cheers and whistling.

In Germany thousands travelled to the southern city of Munich to witness the event, but as the Moon's shadow approached the heavens opened and a torrential downpour washed away the view for some.

Above the clouds

In Munich, and across much of Germany, the best view to be had was transmitted back to Earth from aircraft circling high above the cloud cover.

Hundreds packed roadside rest areas along the A8 highway, nicknamed the 'Eclipse Autobahn,' because it follows the path of the Moon's shadow.

Germany was also the scene of one of the first reported eclipse accidents, when a student suffered severe burns after climbing an electricity pylon in an effort to get a better view.

In Paris, crowds gathered at the famous landmarks
In Paris, crowds gathered at the famous landmarks
As the shadow raced across France at more than 2,000kmh, heavy cloud also proved a problem although most continued to stick to advice of using protective spectacles or pin-hole cameras.

Each small and short-lived break in the cloud sparked cheers and applause from crowds across the country.

In Paris, which experienced 99% totality, city landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe proved the focus of the eclipse watching hordes.

And in the town of Reims, American opera singer Jessye Norman sang He's Got the Whole World in his Hands.

Tying the knot

In Belgrade, Jovan the chimp takes a look at the partial eclipse
In Belgrade, Jovan the chimp takes a look at the partial eclipse
In the town of Ermenonville, north of Paris, two French astrophysicists tied the knot just minutes before the eclipse so that they could witness the union of Sun and Moon as man and wife.

In Romania watchers basked in perfect conditions and enjoyed the longest totality of anyone - apart from those who parted with a lot of money to shadow-chase on Concorde.

Those who could afford it sipped champagne high above the clouds as two of the supersonic aircraft alternately caught up with and on occasion overtook the eclipse.

Witnesses in Bucharest, many dressed in traditional costume, said spontaneous applause broke out as a surreal purple light surrounded them and the Sun disappeared for nearly two-and-a-half minutes.

Economic boost

Tourism officials are expressing quiet satisfaction at a mini boom the eclipse has bought to a country still struggling to improve its fragile economy.

Romanian women don traditional dress in perfect eclipse-watching weather
Romanian women don traditional dress in perfect eclipse-watching weather
With the Moon completely covering the Sun, Romanians and the thousands of visitors who had travelled from across Europe got a spectacular and rare view of the Sun's mysterious atmosphere, or corona, which burns at more than one million degrees centigrade.

That was the main lure for scientists who gathered at remote sites across the continent to get the best view, free from Earth-based pollutants.

Even the Holy See gave way to the eclipse as Pope John Paul II cut short his weekly audience with pilgrims in the Vatican, saying: "I'm finishing up now, because I know that some of you are in a hurry to see the eclipse."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Audio
The BBC's Jeremy Cooke reports from Romania, which experienced the longest period of totality
Video
Watch German TV's commentary on the eclipse (in German)
Links to more Total Eclipse stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Total Eclipse stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | World | UK | England | N Ireland | Scotland | Wales |
UK Politics | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology |
Health | Education | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes