ESA Eclipse99 campaign underway
15 July 1999The real countdown to the total solar eclipse begins today, one solar rotation (27 days) before the 11 August. Near-real time images of the solar corona from the SOHO spacecraft can be used to prepare for your observations on the day. This, the last total solar eclipse of the millenium, is an opportunity to address questions about the Sun, the Sun-Earth interaction, the Solar System and astronomy in general.
Among its preparations for this very special solar event, ESA will release a 25 minute Eclipse video index, with cleared world-wide rights for television. It includes animations and video documents on the 11 August eclipse, the mechanics of eclipses, historical European eclipse observations, monitoring the Sun from space, early European satellites, SOHO, Ulysses, Cluster and basic facts about the Sun, Moon and Earth. A video index "Stories about the Sun" illustrating fundamental questions about the Sun, the solar terrestrial connection, and recent discoveries made by SOHO, has also been prepared. The first two of these 'Stories from the Sun' are available now (see links).
To coordinate eclipse activities across Europe, ESA has set up an international committee with a number of European partner institutions*. A number of events organised by the partners are already underway. The Sociiti Astronomique de France (SAF), organised an "eclipse train" from 14 June to 2 July with exhibitions to travel to a number of French cities (from Paris via Toulouse, Lyon, Strasbourg, Lille and finally Reims). It was inaugurated by French Secretary of Health B. Kouchner and SAF President R.Ferlet at Paris-Gare de l'Est on 14 June.
On 1 July an exhibition on "Splendeurs du Soleil" was opened at Strasbourg's Hotel du Dipartement by Prof. A. Acker (Strasbourg observatory, president of association of planetariums), B.H.Foing (ESA Eclipse99 co-ordinator), and local representatives. This features the SAF Eclipse exhibition, educational information and interactive experiments on eclipses, historical astronomical instruments from the French Physical Society, and ESA video material on SOHO and on eclipses.
SOHO is continuously showing near-real time images of the solar corona, making use of instruments observing in the extreme ultraviolet, or using coronagraphs to mask artificially the solar disk. As the distribution of the surface magnetic field changes from day to day, the appearance of the corona varies, even showing at times Coronal Mass Ejections. In the run up to 11 August, these SOHO images can be used to prepare for viewing the total solar eclipse
ESA is also organising the capture of total eclipse images, to be distributed in near real-time via the internet, from a number of European sites across the band of totality (from UK, France, Germany, Austria, Hungary and Romania). The Agency will also be present with temporary exhibitions in Cornwall, in Paris, Noyon and Strasbourg (F) and Stuttgart and Munich(D).
ESA will participate in a daily pre-eclipse press point at Museum d'Histoire Naturelle organised by Eclipse-Info (Dr B.H. Foing 5-8 Aug, Prof. R.M. Bonnet 6 and 12 August). R.M.Bonnet will participate in a France 2 emission "La Nuit des Etoiles" on 10 August evening and France 2 live eclipse coverage on 11 August. B.H. Foing will also participate in press point activities on 9-11 August with FR3 and national FR2/FR3 real time coverage for the totality over Strasbourg. SOHO Project scientist B. Fleck will be available at Stuttgart for German TV and media coverage (10-13 Aug). Other ESA staff will be available at the various sites for comments, information and media activities.
Details will be made available on the Eclipse99 website.
ESA Contacts (and dates of availability on eclipse sites)
Bernard H. Foing, Eclipse99 coordinator
Paris (5-8 Aug), Noyon/Strasbourg ( 8-11 Aug)
Phone: 31 71 565 5647 or 3574 (secretary), Fax: 31 71 565 4697
Mobile: 31 6 539 78 040
Bernhard Fleck, SOHO project scientist
Stuttgart (10-13 August)
Phone: 1 301 286 4098
Paal Brekke, SOHO deputy Project scientist
Paris (5-8 Aug), Strasbourg (8-9 Aug), Noyon (10-11 Aug)
Detlef Koschny, Jo Zender, ESA/SSD
Munich (10-11 Aug)
Salvatore Orlando , ESA SSD
Szombathely/Graz (6-12 Aug)
Phone: 31 71 565 3945 , Fax: 31 71 565 4697
Hugo Maree, ESA Public Relations Division
Tel: +33 (0)1 53 69 7106 Fax: +33 (0)1 53 69 7690
Franco Bonacina, ESA Public Relations Division
Tel: +33 (0)1 53 69 7155 Fax: +33 (0)1 53 69 7690
Cecilia Nilsson, ESA SSD administrative assistant
Phone: 31 71 565 3574 , Fax: 31 71 565 4697
F. Drigani, Science Communications Service
Phone: 31 71 565 4604, Fax 31 71 565 4101
*ECLIPSE99 International Scientific Organising Committee
R.M. Bonnet (chairman),
ESA Director of Science Programme
B.H. Foing (co-chairman), ESA ECLIPSE99 coordinator,
ESA Space Science Department
A. Acker, ULP Strasbourg,
Presidente Association des Planetariums
E. Antonucci, Professor, Torino observatory
J. Audouze, Director, Palais de la Dicouverte, Paris
F. Clette, chairman JOSO eclipse working group
R. Ferlet, President Societe Astronomique de France
B. Fleck, ESA, SOHO Project Scientist
M. Huber, Head ESA Space Science Dept.
K. Phillips, Rutherford Appleton Lab.
B. Schmieder, Obs. Meudon, President JOSO
M. Stavinschi, Director Bucharest Observatory
S. Vauclair, Toulouse, President Soc. Francaise Specialistes en Astronomie
O. von der Luhe, Freiburg, Director, Kiepenheuer Institute
J.C. Vial, Orsay, Director MEDOC center
R. West, ESO, Public Outreach and Education
J. P. Zahn, President, European Astronomical Society