"La nuit kidnappe le jour..."

"The eclipse was indescribable (but I'll try to...). Even though I'd seen all the photos/video of other eclipses and knew what it 'looked like', I wasn't sure exactly what to expect. I can honestly say I've never had a more pure moment of AWE than when I gazed up as the moment of totality hit. The sight was absolutely incredible... not even photos or video can do it justice. Everyone around 'ooohed' and 'ahhed' and gasped. We were all hushed as we shivered from the sudden cold and gazed at mid-day night around us. At the end of totality I found my own eyes tearing up at the beauty I had just seen, and I could tell that others around me were affected as well. They couldn't help it really, and neither could I."



View some of my photos and video screenshots from the eclipse of 11 AUG 1999. The video (eclipse.avi) is available for download as a 3.4 MB ZIP file. It is 2 minutes 36 seconds long and encompasses totality and the moments just before and after. We taped for the entire 2 minutes 14 seconds of totality that we experienced, however some small sections of the video where the camera was moved from the eclipse were removed in the interest of keeping file size down. The movie shows such things as 2nd contact, 3rd contact, totality, the diamond ring, and a view of the surroundings and horizon during totality.

Behold, the Shadow spreads and towers apace,
Like a dense cloud that rolls along the sea
Landward, then shrouds the winding shore, the fields,
The network of rite gray autumnal woods,
And the low cottage roofs of upland farms;
What seemed a vapor with a ragged fringe
Changes to wings, that sweep from north to south.
And round about the mass whose cloudy dome
Should be a head, I see the lambent flames
Of distant lightnings play. And now a voice
Of winds and waves and crumbling thunder tones
Commingled, muttering unintelligible things,
Approaches us. The air grows strangely chill
And nebulous. Daylight hath backward stepped.
The morning sun is blotted with eclipse.

- From Ariel and Caliban, Christopher Pearse Cranch

No vapour stretched its wings; no cloud
Cast far or near a murky shroud;
The sky an azure field displayed;
'Twas sunlight sheathed and gently charmed,
Of all its sparkling rays disarmed,
And as in slumber laid,--

Or something night and day between,
Like moonshine--but the hue was green;
Still moonshine, without shadow, spread
On jutting rock, and curved shore,
Where gazed the peasant from his door
And on the mountain's head.

But Fancy with the speed of fire
Hath passed to Milan's loftiest spire,
And there alights 'mid that aerial host
Of Figures human and divine,
White as the snows of Apennine
Indurated by frost.

Awe-stricken she beholds the array
That guards the Temple night and day;
Angels she sees--that might from heaven have flown,
And Virgin-saints, who not in vain
Have striven by purity to gain
The beatific crown--

Sees long-drawn files, concentric rings
Each narrowing above each;--the wings,
The uplifted palms, the silent marble lips
The starry zone of sovereign height--
All steeped in this portentous light!
All suffering dim eclipse!

Thus after Man had fallen (if aught
These perishable spheres have wrought
May with that issue be compared)
Throngs of celestial visages,
Darkening like water in the breeze,
A holy sadness shared.

I ask in vain--and know far less
If sickness, sorrow, or distress
Have spared my Dwelling to this hour;
Sad blindness! but ordained to prove
Our faith in Heaven's unfailing love
And all-controlling power.

THE ECLIPSE OF THE SUN, 1820 William Wordsworth


If you have the Macromedia Flash plugin, you can view my animated and interactive Flash page about total solar eclipses. The file size is approximately 158 KB. You can also view a splash page of Eclipse Verses.

Since risen from ocean, ocean to defy,
Appeared the crag of Ailsa, ne'er did morn
With gleaming lights more gracefully adorn
His sides, or wreathe with mist his forehead high:
Now, faintly darkening with the sun's eclipse,
Still is he seen, in lone sublimity,
Towering above the sea and little ships;
For dwarfs the tallest seem while sailing by,
Each for her haven; with her freight of Care,
Pleasure, or Grief, and Toil that seldom looks
Into the secret of to-morrow's fare;
Though poor, yet rich, without the wealth of books,
Or aught that watchful Love to Nature owes
For her mute Powers, fixed Forms, or transient Shows.

William Wordsworth


We witnessed the eclipse near Neufchatel-En-Bray in Northern France. The map page shows the path of totality through France and our position. The eclipse started at 11:03:44 local time, totality began at 12:20:30 and lasted until 12:22:44. The moon moved completely off the face of the sun at 13:43:18.

The eclipse of 11 AUG 1999 belongs to "Saros Cycle" 145. Each eclipse belonging to a cycle occurs 18 years, 11 3/4 days (6,585 3/4 days) after the previous one, when the particular alignment and positions of the sun, moon and earth are almost exactly repeated. The next eclipse of Saros 145 will be the total eclipse of 21 AUG 2017 with the path of totality sweeping over the United States from west to east.