Welcome to the Torbay Astronomical Society's "Eclipse 1999" web page!

On Wednesday, August 11th. 1999, shortly after 10:10 GMT (11:10 BST) a total solar eclipse occurred over parts of Cornwall and South Devon. This page gives details of the eclipse in and around Torbay (see the virtual tour!).

A gallery of images and video clips taken during the eclipse has been prepared.

An internet webcast was successfully conducted live from the observatory at the Torquay Boys' Grammar School. Astronomers from around the UK and the rest of the world stayed on the school's playing field near to the observatory, during the eclipse week.

On the morning of the eclipse TAS members were present at suitable viewpoints around the bay, equipped with telescope projection facilities and able to give advice on safety and viewing techniques.

Within Torbay the total eclipse period commenced at 10:14UT (11:14BST), lasting for over one minute. The Moon's 65 mile wide totality shadow moved (at about 1900 miles per hour) from West to East, making the Torbay area the last part of mainland Britain to experience totality until just before sunset on the 23rd. September in the year 2090!

The table below shows the eclipse timing at various locations in and around Torbay. First Contact is the moment when the Moon first begins to obscure the Sun. Second Contact is the start of the total eclipse period, ending at Third Contact. Fourth Contact marks the moment when the Sun is no longer obscured.

Note: all times are UT. Add 1 hour for British Summer Time.

Location First ContactSecond ContactMid EclipseDurationThird ContactFourth Contact
Ashburton 08:58:4710:13:5210:14:200:5610:14:4811:34:30
Brixham 08:58:5510:13:4910:14:371:3510:15:2411:34:56
Buckfastleigh 08:58:4410:13:4010:14:161:1210:14:5211:34:28
Dartmouth 08:58:4710:13:3610:14:281:4410:15:2011:34:48
Kingsbridge 08:58:3210:13:1210:14:101:5610:15:0811:34:30
Kingswear 08:58:4810:13:3810:14:301:4410:15:2211:34:50
Newton Abbot 08:58:5710:14:1310:14:330:4010:14:5311:34:45
Newton Ferrers 08:58:1810:12:5310:13:491:5310:14:4611:34:04
Salcombe 08:58:2910:13:0810:14:092:0110:15:0911:34:31
Teignmouth 08:59:0510:14:3510:14:420:1410:14:4911:34:54
Torquay 08:58:5910:14:0310:14:391:1210:15:1511:34:55
Totnes 08:58:4510:13:3710:14:221:3110:15:0711:34:38

Here's how the sky looked (schematically, at least!). The eclipsed sun was roughly 47 degrees above the horizon at a bearing of 133 degrees from true North. Venus, at around magnitude -4, was a brilliant object below and to the left of the sun/moon. Mercury (magnitude 0.7) was visible slightly above and to the right of the sun/moon. Low above the Western horizon Jupiter (magnitude -2.1) was another bright object, with Saturn (magnitude 0.1) above and to the left. The 'winter' constellation of Orion was prominent slightly West of South.
There is more eclipse information to be found at Fred Espenak's eclipse page, the Official UK eclipse coordination site, NASA, hermit.org, Sky and Telescope.

Dave Norman (Vice-chairman and "Eclipse Coordinator" for the Torbay Astronomical Society)