11th August 1999

Alderney experienced a total eclipse of the sun

Alderney was the focus of global astronomical attention on 11 August 1999 when it experienced a total solar eclipse. It was the first total eclipse of the sun visible in any part of the UK since 1927.

Several hundred eclipse watchers had travelled to Alderney specifically for the event, while others watched from cross-Channel ferries, which had dropped anchor off shore for the event.

According to the BBC’s Eclipse 1999 web coverage,

People crammed on the tiny Channel Island of Alderney hoping for a better view. Some 10,000 visitors had filled the island to bursting point. Among them were a group of astronomers who were viewing the eclipse using special telescopes and instruments.

The epicentre of the eclipse, where the moon appears to perfectly cover the disc of the sun, started in Boston in the United States. It travelled at around 2000mph across the globe towards Europe. It crossed Cornwall on its way towards the Channel Islands before proceeding across France and Germany towards Bulgaria, Romania and, eventually, India.

A second eclipse

Alderney fell within the path of a partial solar eclipse almost exactly 18 years later. On 21 August 2017, much of North America was within the path of the total eclipse. On that occasion, Alderney residents were lucky enough to see a small bite taken out of the sun when it reached the Channel Islands.

Guernsey Post issued a series of heat-sensitive stamps to commemorate the 2017 eclipse that depicted the sun’s appearance from six coastal locations. Designed by Guernsey-based agency, The Potting Shed, they used thermodynamic ink that became transparent when exposed to heat – such as when pressed by a finger. When the ink disappeared, it revealed the unobscured sun.

Alderney appeared on the 80p stamp. The other locations depicted were Vancouver (44p), Miami (59p), Bermuda (60p), Dakar (73p) and Andyr, Russia (90p).


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Other events that occured in August

The Saumarez Memorial foundation stone was laid 1st
Guernsey won double-silver at the Commonwealth Games 2nd
Earl Grey was appointed Governor of Guernsey 3rd
A boy scout fell 250ft over a Torteval Cliff 4th
Jethou tenant was rescued from an up-turned boat 5th
A tomato ship and a tanker collided 6th
Human remains were found on Lihou 7th
The Beatles played at Candie Gardens 8th
The RAF bombed Guernsey Airport 9th
Guernesiais linguist Marie de Garis died 10th
Alderney experienced a total eclipse of the sun 11th
A minister was found dead at Icart Point 12th
Guernsey steam tramway is granted its concession 13th
Police found a bomb in Bluebell Wood 14th
Hanois Lighthouse’s foundation stone was laid 15th
Charlie Chaplin played in St Peter Port 16th
St Peter Port inundated with fish 17th
A royal visit… of sorts
The Rolling Stones played St Peter Port 18th
Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society was published 19th
Archaeologist Crystal Bennet was born 20th
Mapmaking geologist John MacCulloch died 21st
St Sampson pensioner was buried in a landslide 22nd
Trident VI ran aground on its return from Herm 23rd
Queen Victoria visited Guernsey 24th
The post-Occupation military government was disbanded 25th
Wesleyans celebrated 100 years on Guernsey 26th
Oliver Reed was jailed in Guernsey 27th
Guernsey’s Reform Law was enacted 28th
Winston Churchill visited Guernsey with his wife 29th
Philip de Saumarez was discharged as a Jurat 30th
Jersey swimmers set a round-Guernsey record 31st