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Report on the Total Solar Eclipse of 1999 Aug 11

by Wendy Carlos (Bucharest, Romania)

This year I observed totality rather well from Romania.While the weather was fairly dismal over much of the earlier part of its path, through southern England, France, Germany, and so on, once you got east of the Carpathians (beautiful mountains in many ways) things cleared with alacrity.I observed with a friend from the Eastern outskirts of Bucharest, right on the center line.We were at the comfortable Hotel Lebada, and I was surprised how few eclipse chasers we ran into there.There was a comfortable picturesque courtyard on the premises, protected from wind on all sides, with charming concrete paths to set up equipment on, and tall thick trees, to duck under from the sun.Only a few hotel employees were to be found, a very odd feeling to be fairly alone in such a place during an eclipse, but it was nicely free from interruptions that can inspire stupid mistakes on an eclipse hunt...!

We were alarmed when the early morning prevailing winds over those mountains turned from CW to CCW rotation.This made things better in the area North and West of us (see comment below), but brought a few smaller convection clouds into Bucharest, the only real cloudiness that day, or for three days prior to the eclipse.Rats! One day or so earlier would have been uneventfully clear, or even one hour later.As often happens, the clouds were quite contrary the predictions of early that morning.Had the wind stayed consistent, we would have been perfect, although those to the West would have probably been threatened by clouds spilling over the Carpathian Mountains (friends in that area report being told to drive East by the local weather bureau staff.)

Fortunately there were some reasonably large holes in the deck, and with a bit o' luck one of these moved over our site during the middle of our 2:22 totality.So several seconds of totality had thin clouds moving off, then it was clear for over a minute and a half, then thin clouds encroached again, which became thicker after the diamond ring ended the big show.We missed parts of both partials, but one can't complain, not when much of the actual city of Bucharest saw nothing of the corona that afternoon, yikes!

And -- oh -- what a corona! Just about the best I've ever seen: symmetrically round, intricately busy, many neat arches and helmet streamers, a great many notable prominences, also many fine long streamers all the way around the bright, graceful solar "crown" of glory, talk about a c-o-r-o-n-a...! Take a look for yourself.

The 1999 "Crown" of Glory
Radial gradient/composite image of the corona.
Total Solar Eclipse of 1999 Aug 11 (Bucharest, Romania)
Photo ©1999 by Wendy Carlos and Jonathan Kern
Composite Solar Corona

The image here is an intricate composite from 5 negatives.The first two were taken through a custom radial gradient filter generously made for me by fellow eclipse photographer and veteran, Jonathan Kern, of Louisiana.He's a true wizard with optical and mechanical fabrication, and has developed his own precision ways to evaporate metal coatings onto glass rotating below a mask under a high vacuum bell jar.Fascinating stuff.I'm most grateful to him in many ways once again.Makes compositing a LOT easier than my usual 4-8 negatives graded along by hand, although there are other good reasons to optimize and combine images, still, and I expect that will never change.Here we've combined the best of both worlds.

Jon observed under clear skies just NW of me, in the town of Rimnicu-Vilcea (at Jay Pasachoff's busy site), and took six long exposures through a similar radial filter.I combined two of Jon's fine images with my more moderate filter images, plus some additional limb and prominence detailing from another negative, no special filter, to obtain the above composite.The scans were preliminary, and slightly flawed, but the results betray all that.Nothing like practical experience to get the best with what you've got.Now if someone could explain to me how it is we got a highly maximum type corona when the solar cycle was still about 3 years from the max of its 11 (or 22) year cycle, I'll be grateful.Always wanted to nab another one of these rare ones (see 1980 & 1991, above), and this was a beauty!

For more eclipse photos, see: Wendy Carlos' Eclipse Page

1999 Total Eclipse Reports and Photos

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