MBK Team Solar eclipses
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August 11, 1999

Szombathely, Hungary

This is my recollection of the Solar Eclipse Experience. Although very interesting from a trail blazer's point of view I will not describe the way we got to our observing spot - we started at 4 am in Velenje, passed Austria into Hungary and were in Szombathely at 10 am. The weather looked iffiy an the sky was still more than 75% overcast. After spending 15 minutes at a field some 10 km out of Szombathely we decided to move towards Balaton as the weather looked more promising there.
We stopped at around 10:30 LT on a dirt road some 40 km out of Szombathely, possibly very near Janoshaza. The sky had completely cleared by then and the transparency was great!

11:25 - first contact. I observe only with Mylar glasses but the small darkened portion of the Sun is already readily apparent.
20% eclipse - quite interestingly, the reduced amount of sunlight is already apparent at only 20% phase of the eclipse. It is as if you are looking through a slightly darkened glass.
Quite surprising, I don't remember noticing the effect as early during October 12, 1996 partial eclipse...
50% eclipse - the sky and surroundings are quite obviously much darker than before, the shadows are becoming ill-defined. There is an eeire feeling, it is much dakrer than usual but the Sun was still high in the sky and the shadows short... Venus is blazing away at -4 magnitude 20 degrees southeast of the Sun.
80% eclipse - the shadows are very ill defined at the edges, the surroundings much darker. I am expecting the shadow to become visible from the northwest any time. The clouds near the horizon there look dark and I think that is it, but it later proved they were not yet in the shadow, just in an area with a higher eclipse than here! The shadow is still coming!
One interesting incident - at the time a white Ferrari pulls up beside our car and out come two excited italians and begin setting up their (big) cameras!
95% eclipse - I am very excited now. Finally my parents become excited too (my brother was excited before the first contact, so there's little point in mentioning him J).
One strange thing that occurs to me while I am gazing at the Sun - I have not yet seen any unusual behaviour from any animals, something fabled so extensively before the eclipse. To tell you the truth, it appears hogwash to me!!
The small Sun's crescent is visibly shrinking and with it the excitement is growing. Very difficult to describe, you have to do it yourself...
97% eclipse - the same the folx in Ljubljana, Slovenia's capitol saw! I noticed something moving on the ground. Shadow bands! First only I see them, some 3 minutes before totality. Ill-defined first, but more and more pronounced as we approach second contact. Very distinct 1 minute before totality - similar to watching the bottom of a pool, bright and dark bands running across the ground! Suddenly the ground becomes orange and in a second it is dark!
100 % eclipse!! I am so occupied observing the shadow bands I miss the Diamond ring! Now the moon covers the entire Sun and the corona is blazing in its true glory!!
Coronal streamers in the equatorial area extend to 2 - 3.5 solar diameters, grey to pale bluish/greenish in color. Also a distinctly kinked streamer further up in the polar area.
Polar streamers up to 2 solar diameters out! A rich corona near the solar maximum. Also a more or less continuous crimson glow traches the entire moon's limb - the cromosphere, with three bright prominences!
In then take a look around - the sky is dark blue/gray, very dark. No stars except Sirius. 360 degrees along the horizon there is an orange twilight sky, just amazing. Venus is blazing, so is Mercury! Slowly the shadow is mooving across our location at 3000 km/h!
You can see the northwest getting slightly brighter orange and southeast getting darker and darker.
I then take a look up into the Sun again. Awaiting the end of the eclipse I just try to make a mental image that I will remember for my entire life. You can see the moon progressing, and one side of the corona is becoming brighter and brighter. A bright crimson cromosphere blazes for several seconds before the Diamond ring appears. Wow! The light is turned on again, first everything is orange and then the way it was before the totality. I watch the Sun for several seconds, seeing the Bailey's beads and then deciding I had enough of direct sunlight.

99% eclipse - we decide we'll skip the anticlimactic phase of the eclipse and pack up and go home. Wow...

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MBK Team 1999 Total Solar Eclipse report from Janoshaza, Hungary

MBK Team 1999 Total Solar Eclipse report from Pinkafeld, Austria


Fred Espenak's Eclipse