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1999: The 'millennium eclipse'
People gathered from the Isles of Scilly in Cornwall to the eastern coast of India to watch the last total solar eclipse of the century.

Many of the estimated 350 million sky watchers across Europe and Asia were denied a full view of "totality" because of cloudy weather.

But the eclipse still produced a variety of spectacular light effects as the moon's shadow raced across one ocean and two continents.

Your accounts:

I was with my family down in Devon in a little car park on top of a hill.

Noises of sheep bleating, birds chirping etc were distant in the background and then the darkness set in. Everything went silent and I had a lump in my throat.

The clouds had blurred the sun but it still felt amazing to be part of this phenomenon.
Steven C, UK

On the day of the eclipse we were driving through France after a family holiday. The police made all the lorry drivers pull off the motorway for about two hours as they thought they might cause an accident through being distracted.

We were, therefore, driving up a virtually deserted French autoroute as the atmosphere became grey and dark. Rather a spooky experience!
Roger Sheldrake, UK

I remember watching the total eclipse of the sun in 1999. I was working in Paddock Wood then and it was a really eerie feeling, all of a sudden the birds stopped singing and it just suddenly got really dark.

Where I was it was not a total eclipse but almost a total eclipse. I am still glad that I witnessed it because I certainly will not be around for the next one in 2090, I'll be long gone then.
Laura Lambert, United Kingdom

I travelled to Cornwall to watch the eclipse. At 11:11 on 11 August 1999 I was in darkness.

This must have had a subconscious impact on me because regularly (at least three times a week) I will look at a clock, be it at work or at home in the evening and it will be 11:11 either AM or PM. Strange but true. I wonder if anyone else has had the same effect.
Nigel Howell, UK

We were en route to a paragliding competition in the French Alps and stopped in a cornfield bang on the zone of totality.

There were dozens of other people with us in the middle of nowhere. We thought that as modern, techie people who are well educated and travelled that this would be an interesting interlude on the trip down.

However we were totally unprepared for the magical experience that awaited us. Never before had I seen the true power of nature so beautifully demonstrated.

As an atheist this was (and remains) one of the most intense and spiritual experiences that I have had - truly moving. We then spent the next week using the power of the sun to fly paragliders around the Alps.
Pete Bursnall, United Kingdom

I remember learning about this eclipse and its promised appearance as a child. The memory stayed with me and I was determined to see this cosmic spectacular for myself.

My wife and I packed the kids into the car and set off for Cornwall. The traffic along the A30 was atrocious and then, predictably enough, the skies were overcast for the great event. Even so, the approaching darkness and the subsequent confusion of all the birds are memories I will never lose.

As the light returned, a great cheer rose up from all the crowds who had gathered on the cliffs over Newquay. I now live in Australia, where we have our next total eclipse on 13 November 2012. I think I can bank on clear skies this time!
Steve, Western Australia

I was giving evidence at the Central Criminal Court (Old Bailey) in London, when the presiding judge interrupted the proceedings, so that everyone (especially him) could experience total darkness during daytime. I suspect the accused did not get the same chance.
Sanjeev, UK

My boyfriend was so swept up in the romance of it all he asked me to marry him
Janet Wright, England
It was the only cloudy day in a week of blazing sunshine. Yet even without seeing the "diamond ring" of the eclipse, it was a magical moment when the world went dark and quiet, followed by the unique experience of dawn racing across the sea from the west.

My boyfriend was so swept up in the romance of it all he asked me to marry him. We did get married, then took our next eclipse-holiday in Australia to be sure of seeing it. That was magic too, but nothing could equal that first time on the rainswept cliffs in Cornwall.
Janet Wright, England

Despite the clouds, I will definitely remember the Moon's shadow racing over the sea like an approaching storm, and then it suddenly going very dark with an eerie glow on the horizon. And then just as suddenly it was almost full daylight again.

Was it worth waiting 20 years to see it? Absolutely. Will I make the effort to see another eclipse? Definitely.
Nick, UK

We watched the eclipse from a headland near Hope Cove in Devon. Naturally the sky clouded over 20 minutes before the big event. Nevertheless the view across the sea as the sun was eclipsed was very eerie, though I recall thinking at the time that the sight of a shadow streaking towards you at 1600 mph is a phenomenon that can be experienced any year in England simply by lighting a barbecue.
Jonathan Hill, England

I remember being allowed to leave work and we took a stroll down to the River Thames, where we all stood looking up at the eclipse.

But what I remember is a couple of first-aiders going to the aid of one of our firm's partners and helping him to recover. He had been standing for so long with his head craned back that he shut off his air supply and collapsed!
Jackie Gilchrist, UK

I travelled with a couple of friends to Normandy in France to see the eclipse where the skies were perfectly clear.

It was a magical experience and one that will live with me for the rest of my life. My strangest memory is of the herd of cows in the field next to us who all started mooing when totality struck. It certainly added to the surreal nature of the experience!
Perry, UK

As the light started to dim, things started to feel eerie
Dave Crewe, England
I and my friend made a pilgrimage down to Cornwall for the eclipse. In order to avoid the predicted traffic chaos, we set off at 0400 with no sleep, arriving at about 0700. We set up tents and slept till about 1400.

Famously, the day was cloudy, so there was not going to be a corona. However as the light started to dim, things started to feel eerie.

The change in light level seemed to be almost imperceptible. We found ourselves checking with each other that it had actually become darker. When the eclipse reached its peak, and the fireworks started, we started to feel something that was hard to explain.

The sudden darkness in the middle of the afternoon, and the subsequent re-emerging of the sun gave us a deep sense of foreboding. We could understand how people in history felt that during a total eclipse, that the world was about to end.
Dave Crewe, England

I was on Fistral Beach in Newquay for the eclipse. I can remember that the skies were overcast, the darkness creeping in over the Atlantic Ocean. There was a gap in the clouds, which as if willed on by the people, moved enough so that all of us on the beach could see the totality of the eclipse through this gap.
Nick, Cornwall

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Children watch the 1999 eclipse
Many eclipse-watchers wore special goggles to protect their eyes


Totality at St Michael's Mount, Cornwall, south-west England
There were many spectacular light effects at the point of totality
Andrew Wood's eclipse photograph
Andrew Wood took this picture at Bunnel Farm just north of the Lizard, Cornwall
Andrew Wood's daughters ready to watch the eclipse
Mr Wood kitted his three daughters out with protective eyewear

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