The map on the front page illustrates the whole area covered by the solar eclipse. As you can see, the northeastern USA/Canada, northern Africa, all of Europe, and large parts of Asia will see a partial eclipse; but only the narrow red band will see a total eclipse.

The path of the total eclipse begins at 09:30 UT in the North Atlantic south of Nova Scotia, at sunrise; unluckily for America, it doesn't touch land on that side of the Atlantic. It then passes east across the Atlantic, passing over the Scilly Isles, and touching the UK mainland in Cornwall, near Land's End, at about 10:10 UT. The path of totality crosses over the toe of Cornwall, and touches parts of Devon. For observers on the centre of the track in Cornwall, the eclipse will last over 2 minutes.

The eclipse track crosses the English Channel, passing over Alderney, and cuts through France, southern Germany, Austria, Hungary and Romania before entering the Black Sea. The point of greatest duration is right over Bucharest in Romania, which will see a total eclipse lasting 2 minutes 23 seconds.

Map from the NASA SDAC Eclipse InformationGSFC Eclipse Web Site
The primary source of all the information on eclipses presented here at Hermit Eclipse. (NASA Goddard Space flight Center)

After this, the track cuts through Turkey, and then into Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, and central India, and finally ends in the Bay of Bengal, at 12:36 UT, sunset.

The maximum duration is 2 minutes 23 seconds, and the path width at maximum is 112 kilometers. The magnitude is 1.029.

The Best Spot

So where's the best place in the world to see the total eclipse? Well, it really depends on what you need. Esfahan, in Iran, for example, is often mentioned, as it should have the best chance of clear skies (96%); for a scientific expedition, for example, this might be very important. However, the centreline duration is below 1m50s by this point (Esfahan itself is off-centre, and will see an even shorter eclipse).

The point of maximum eclipse is near Râmnicu Vâlcea in Romania, where the centreline duration is 2m23s; but the chance of clear skies is a bit lower, about 60%. Bear in mind, though, that these figures are not really descriptive of the weather at any given place, and short term weather can vary wildly.

Overall, though, the best places in Europe from the point of view of clear skies are probably around here, on the Black Sea shore, or in general from Lake Balaton eastwards; these locations all get 2m20s or more of total eclipse (on the centreline). The best compromise worldwide may be Turkey; eastern Turkey gets well over 2 minutes of eclipse, and has an 80%-plus chance of clear skies.

Some areas, particularly in the Middle East, may present special problems for travellers -- there may, for example, be particular papers required for travel to specific areas. Check before travelling that you have all necessary documentation for where you want to go.

Cornwall, unfortunately, is probably the worst place, because of the very mixed weather there! However, coming in the middle of August, chances of clear skies are still quite good, and I'll be there, at least.

The Details

The following pages provide more detail on the eclipse track:

If you can't make it to Cornwall, or somewhere else on the path of totality, most of the UK and Europe (down to northern Spain and southern Italy), and much of the Middle East and South Asia, will see at least an 80% eclipse. The closer you are to the track, the nearer it will be to a total eclipse. But be careful: looking at anything other than a total eclipse with the naked eye, or through any kind of magnifying device, can cause eye damage or permanent blindness.

More climatological dataThe Probability of Seeing the Eclipse
Section from Nasa's bulletin on the total solar eclipse of 11 August 1999 on the probability of clear skies at different places along the path of totality. (NASA Goddard Space flight Center)
may be found in the NASA SDAC eclipse bulletinThe Total Solar Eclipse of 1999 August 11
Nasa's bulletin on the total solar eclipse of 11 August 1999. (NASA Goddard Space flight Center)