The eclipse of August 11th, 1999 was remarkable in being total from southwest England, Alderney and northern France. At Fort le Marchant on the very northernmost headland of Guernsey, Channel Is., the southern edge of totality was due to pass by just a few hundred metres offshore, and a crowd of several thousand spectators had gathered. We watched the partial stages of the eclipse through cracks in a mackerel sky, hoping that we would get lucky at the time of near-totality when a good display of Baily's Beads (when the Sun shines through hills and craters on the Moon's limb) was predicted. At 11.15am the last chink of sunlight disappeared and a wave of darkness swept across the sea from the northwest. A cloud came over at the last minute, but the spectacle was awesome anyway - better than on the mainland where it was raining! Those on Alderney and in boats offshore got a cloud break, and had a fleeting view of the corona and prominences. A few seconds later the Sun reappeared, everyone cheered and normality was soon restored.
|This is Fort Le Marchant on the northernmost tip of Guernsey. It's 10.45am, the crowds have gathered all around L'Ancresse Bay, and the Sun's getting noticeably obscured.|
|It's 11.10 am, the light's fading now, it's getting cold and windy and the excitement is tangible.|
|Just a sliver of sunlight left. There's only two minutes to go, but a cloud is about to cover the sun. My little 8x20 monocular came in handy as a projector, as it's very dangerous to look directly at the Sun even near totality.|
|11.15am, this is as good as it gets. That cloud's arrived and there's no Baily's Beads, but who cares, it's AWESOME!!! Spot the flashbulb across L'Ancresse Bay.|