1999, Australia

Observations by Daniel Fischer

Here’s the answer to a question that has come up several times on this and other lists since the Great Australian Annular eclipse one month ago: Was it possible to see and photograph the chromosphere?

It was! And it was surprisingly easy. Some preliminary images can be seen now at

First three filtered pictures of the ring phase itself, followed by another three taken without any filter. The outstandingly clear sky conditions of Greenough helped a lot, of course, but I’m still amazed how little scattered light from the photosphere is present.

The chromosphere is brilliant, some – minor – prominences can be seen and even a hint of the inner corona (which is much more evident in the original slides). All this minutes after annularity, with a brilliant and steadily growing photospheric crescent close-by.

And the pictures were taken with the most primitive of optics: a 500 mm telephoto lens (bought for $ 50.- at a German astronomy market) with an old teleextender (bought for another $ 50.- in Perth, days before the eclipse).

So far I’ve seen one other similarly successful attempt to get the chromosphere from the Feb. 99 eclipse – and there even a video camera had been used (http://www.astromag.co.uk/eclipse.html). The observing site was different, so different parts of the chromosphere were sampled.

By the way: Without knowing about previous successes of getting the chromosphere during annular eclipses (with even wider rings and under adverse sky conditions), I surely wouldn’t have tried. Thanks to Freddy Dorst for leading the way at an eclipse in Peru some years back!

Daniel Fischer, Germany