Solar Eclipse 1999

Hard on the heels of the 1999 Mongolia Expedition, a group of 8 Adults
/ Leaders from the Borders Exploration Group travelled to Strasbourg in France
to see the 1999 Total Solar eclipse which happened on the 11th August.

The original proposal was to travel to Cornwall to see the Eclipse from
there as that is the only part of the UK which lies on the “path of totality”,
i.e. somewhere which will see a Total Eclipse where everything goes dark,
rather than the Partial Eclipse visible through the rest of the U.K., where
it stays light.

The idea of France seemed a much better bet, with the reports of projected
traffic chaos in Cornwall, so on the 8th of August 8 hardy souls met in Hawick
and set off on the arduous first stage of our journey, a whole 2 hours to
Newcastle to get the overnight ferry.

The journey down through Belgium, Holland and Germany to our campsite
was realtively straight forward and we eventually crossed the border, south
of Strasbourg to camp in the little village of in France.

The next day was spent prospecting the surrounding area and Jim making
a cardboard box eclipse viewer (Blue Peter special design). We visited
Strasbourg, definitely in Tourist mode and then went on a tour through some
of the Black Forest, and “yes” the gateau is superb.

Next day, head up the Rhine to a spot which had been identified as a
likely spot to see the Eclipse from. With Alastair navigating, we headed
north, in among a huge contingent of Swiss also headed up the same motorway,
also to view the Eclipse. Would we end up viewing the Eclipse from the middle
of a German Autobahn, in the middle of a Swiss Jam.

Past Strasbourg, the traffic cleared, maybe they were actually going
to work, and we found our way to the banks of the Rhine. and settled down
to breakfast and to wait for the Moon to catch up with the Sun.

The Eclipse was everything we hoped it would be. We watched the Sun
gradually get eaten away. It got colder, the lights came on on the factories
on the French side of the Rhine, the birds went quiet, and then it happened.
It went dark, people around us gasped and cheered, it was a strange darkness,
I still had a shadow and could also see colours, but it was dark, this just
was not right. We had just over two minutes of totality, then the Sun reappeared
to cheers from the crowds all up and down the bank. What affect did it have
on us?, we promptly dug out a newspaper article and started working out where
we could go to see another one, it had that kind of affect on you.