The total eclipse of the sun in Europe,11.8.1999

Photographed and described by Thorsten Boeckel

The photos of the solar eclipse were made on the 11th of August 1999 near Weißenburg (W-Germany, Baden Baden) 30 km western of Karlsruhe. 

The reason to visit this locality was purely the domestic weather forecast, which prognosticated catastrophic conditions in Oberbayern at this day. Raimund Fröhling the former meteorologist of the air base Fuerstenfeldbruck gave us at least a small chance for a seeing if we would evade in western direction. Thus, Jens Augustin and I arrived in the evening of the 8.10.99 at the French border. The night still asterisk clear, a cold horror did overcame me as I examined the weather conditions around 9:00 clock in the morning. An impenetrable grey, five layers one upon the other were killing my ‘solar eclipse euphoria’ soon.

It was around 10:30 when we had breakfast in a rural restaurant with an eastern line of sight. This let assume that I made innumerable runs around the house to swear to the approaching weather conditions coming from the west. Hopeless!!! 11:00, frustration and not the smallest bright spot. Still twelve minutes to the first contact and one and a half hour to the totality.


11:15, discovering a pale shine through the dense layers in the far distance!! Like clutching at a straw I hoped that this weak light point near the horizon may come still to us. After hurrying to the car we met after a short drive to a little hill also very frustrated observers. But anyhow the clarification in the clouds came slowly to our stand point.

11:30, disbelievingly we recognised through smallest cloud gaps the beginning sun cover by the moon. Slammed somehow I placed the Newton reflector on the meadow


12:15, I had to protect with an umbrella the telescope and the camera against the light rain.  The gap continues to tear up and seems to pass us right in time

12:25, still five minutes to the totality. Will we see it? Does the impossible gets real?


12:30, the last ray of light penetrates through the moon valleys. The diamond ring! A powerful thunderstorm continues to develop itself in a range of only five kilometres. Around us grey and black clouds. Thunder!


12:31, a dozen of observers became witnesses of the totality. An unbelievably impressive and rare procedure of this celestial mechanics was observed on a hill through a light chimney. Exactly in these three minutes we had blue sky over us. The deepest shadow of the moon was moving eastward and turned off every illuminated cloud after the other.

An archaic tendency prevailed. Clearly and intensively the red protuberances were recognized. The black sun stood with its corona in a frightening but fascinating splendour over us. The colours of the environment became unreal and a new violet colouring was gleaming around us. It was neither late dawn nor night. Stars and planets in the middle of the day



After the first ray of light we could observe still three minutes the increasing sun crescent when finally a violent thunderstorm stopped all observations.


Jens Augustin and I could not believe this weather luck for a long time. The local weather forecast confirmed a cloudiness of 99% during the eclipse. Lucky we began our home travel to Fuerstenfeldbruck and ignored totally the 60 kilometre long traffic jam on the highway A 8. For the “mental support” during the exciting minutes Thanks to Jens Augustin.

But that's not all!

Andreas Heidl shot this unique photo in the closer region of Landsberg am Lech in OBB).

In a solidary way Andreas also jittered before a mighty cloud front which came speedy from the west!

Datas of photos:

Telescope: Siberia - Newton-Reflector,1200 mm,    Kamera:  Minolta XG-1 Reflex camera   Film: Fuji-200,  Color negative film,       Time of exposure: 1/125 sec - 1 sec

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©2005 photos by Th. Boeckel, additional photo by Andreas Heidl, last modification 2.2.2005

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