Total Solar Eclipse of 1999 August 11

The next total eclipse of the Sun is the final one of the twentieth century. The path of the Moon's umbral shadow begins in the North Atlantic, continues through central Europe (Figure 18), the Middle East, and south Asia, where it ends at sunset in the Bay of Bengal. A partial eclipse will be seen within the much broader path of the Moon's penumbral shadow, which includes the northeastern United States and Canada, Greenland, Iceland, all of Europe, most of Asia and the northern third of Africa [Espenak, 1987].

Europeans have been waiting for this event for 38 years. Not since 1961 has the Moon's shadow touched down on the Continent. Beginning in the Atlantic about 300 km south of Nova Scotia, the umbra quickly traverses the ocean. Southern England enjoys first landfall in Cornwall and parts of Devon. The center line duration of this mid morning eclipse is 2 minutes as the Sun stands 45 degrees above the horizon. Unfortunately, the probability of clear skies is only about 1 out of 3.

The weather prospects do not change appreciably as the path crosses the English Channel and swings through northern France. As the umbra passes 20 km north of Paris, the City of Lights will be darkened be by an eclipse of magnitude 0.994. Southern Belgium and Luxembourg also lie in the path which continues into Germany. Stuttgart is just north of center line and enjoys a total eclipse duration of 2 minutes 17 seconds. Nearly 2 million citizens of Munich will also bear witness to over two minutes of totality, provided the sky is clear on eclipse day. Traveling through central Austria and Hungary, the shadow narrowly misses Vienna and Budapest. But Bucharest, Romania, stands squarely on the center line just as the total eclipse reaches its greatest duration of 2 minutes 23 seconds.

After paralleling the Romanian/Bulgarian border, the track crosses the Black Sea and diagonally bisects Turkey. Ankara lies 150 km south of the path and experiences a partial eclipse of magnitude 0.967. The path narrows and the duration drops as shadow's trajectory takes it through Iran, Afghanistan, southern Pakistan and central India where it ends in the Bay of Bengal. Although a detailed weather study for the 1999 eclipse is not yet available, a preliminary analysis shows a clearing trend through Eastern Europe which continues to improve in Turkey, and reaching a peak in Iran.

Complete details will be published in the next NASA solar eclipse bulletin in Fall-Winter 1996.

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