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Total Eclipse 1999

Updated on December 31, 2012

On August 11th 1999 the last full solar eclipse of the millennium occurred. For those who don't know, a Solar Eclipse is an event during which the new Moon passes directly between the Earth and Sun, temporarily blocking the Sun's light; the day turns to night for approximately two minutes.

In England, we were very excited to view this event. It was predicted that the best place to view the eclipse would be Cornwall, where the full ecliptic shadow would first hit land. Our home was in Guernsey, in the English Channel. We had planned to camp in Cornwall for five days, and had booked a camp ground for the occasion. We were meeting six of our friends (who lived in London) at the camp. We sailed over from Guernsey to England on the ferry and took a train down to Cornwall, which is a beautiful county at the south west tip of England.

We arrived and reunited with our friends, set up camp and had a great evening talking around the camp fire. The eclipse was set to commence the next morning at approximately 11.00am. There were hundreds of people who had gathered in Cornwall to see the event. There were all kinds of memorabilia such as T-Shirts saying, "I was in Cornwall for the millennium eclipse ," and pin-hole glasses used to view the eclipse. (It is dangerous for the eyes to look directly at the sun for any extended period of time).

Unfortunately, we didn’t get to view the actual eclipse due to thick low cloud in the whole of Cornwall, but this is a description of what happened. About 15 minutes before the total eclipse, daylight became weak. The crowd bustled with excitement. 5 minutes from totality the sky turned a dark gray from the west and darkness slowly advanced until the whole sky was a dark, cold gray.

As though the Almighty were turning off a dimmer switch, the light faded completely over a period of 2 or 3 seconds. Then a hush came over the crowd as total darkness approached, and an eeriness which made the hairs stand up on the back of my arms. A dog howled in the distance, (obviously confused by the lack of light).

After about 2 minutes the sky began to lighten in the west. Light returned to the clouds, advancing up across the sky. Then suddenly light appeared on the ground and wiped away the darkness, like a giant hand was operating a magic eraser. General light slowly increased for many minutes more. There were ripples of loud cheers from the crowds.

Despite the disappointment at not being able to get a clear view of the Eclipse, we were in a party mode and numerous dances broke out in the streets. We had a great time for the rest of our stay and have many lasting memories.

When we got back home to Guernsey, we found out it had been a clear, sunny day and Guernsey was reported to have been one of the best places in Europe to view the event! Still, we had a great five days camping with our friends and wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

PS, I still have the T. Shirt!

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    • petermdhart profile image

      petermdhart 6 years ago from Cornwall, UK

      You should have stayed in Guernsey!

    • mysterylady 89 profile image

      mysterylady 89 6 years ago from Florida

      What an exciting experience! I envy you. I am sure you had more fun in Cornwall than if you had stayed in Guernsey.

    • brightforyou profile image
      Author

      Helen 6 years ago from Florida

      Thanks you guys... Yes, I definitely had a great time in Cornwall - who cares about the silly-old eclipse anyway!

    • green tea-cher profile image

      green tea-cher 6 years ago

      What an exciting trip! You obviously felt it even if you didn't see it. Did you know by studying a perfect solar eclipse in 1919 astronomers confirmed that gravity bends light, which led to the acceptance of Einstein's theory of relativity? (See my hub The Earth is Unique And It Was Made For Man.)I think it is fantastic that you were a part of such a unique event. Thanks for sharing.

    • brightforyou profile image
      Author

      Helen 6 years ago from Florida

      Hi G. Tea-cher, no I didn't know - thanks for the information, I'll check out your hub. Thanks for stopping by!

    • GusTheRedneck profile image

      Gustave Kilthau 6 years ago from USA

      Howdy BFY - There are some big doings with Mars this month. (closest to Earth in many years, etc.) Perhaps you might want to check that out and do another great hub (like this one) about it.

      Gus :-)))

    • brightforyou profile image
      Author

      Helen 6 years ago from Florida

      Hi Gus - thanks for letting me know about Mars..I'll definitely check it out - I'll google it to find out when its occurring and may be inspired to write a hub!

    • Tusitala Tom profile image

      Tom Ware 6 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Hi, Brightforyou.

      I experienced a total eclipse of the sun whilst wandering alone around a 60,000 acre sheep station in outback Australia in 1953. Not a cloud in the sky; eight-eighths of blue, yet suddenly it gradually got darker. Didn't notice it at first. Then the birds and insects gradually ceased their chatter and chirping. I looked up. Saw the whole thing. Had no idea about the Sun's coroner being dangerous to the eyes. As it was, I was unscathed. But I'll never forget it. As the sun emerged, it was as if a new day was dawning as far as those birds and insects were concerned.

    • brightforyou profile image
      Author

      Helen 6 years ago from Florida

      Hi Tusitala Tom, I enjoyed your experience of the total eclipse - sounds wonderful to be alone in the Aussie outback like that.. thanks for your comments!

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