Wednesday, 11th August 1999

Celebrate the last total eclipse of the millennium with the party to end all parties!

On Wednesday 11th August 1999 the last total solar eclipse before the year 2000 will occur, which (weather permitting) will be visible from Britain and much of northern Europe. While the partial eclipse may be seen from virtually the whole of the northern hemisphere (for example, an 80% partial eclipse will be visible from Edinburgh), the actual path of totality will clip the tip of Cornwall and then track through France north of Paris, over Reims, Metz and Strasbourg, and on into Germany and Austria before heading down towards India via the Balkans and the Middle East (see the NASA web site for more details of the eclipse path).

It is planned to celebrate this unique event with a party somewhere in northern France (details of venue yet to be finalised) close to the eclipse centre-line between Compiègne and Metz (reckoned to be the best part of France from which to see the eclipse) and within (relatively) easy reach of the Channel ports. The party will be based around a traditional French ‘mechoui’ (lamb or mutton roasted on a spit over a fire pit). Further details of the party will be provided later, but you are invited to gather at the party site from about 10am (French time) in time to see the start of the partial eclipse which will last about 2 to 3 hours. The actual total eclipse will last approximately 2 minutes and will start at about 12:30pm local time. Brilliant sunshine (except during the eclipse, of course) and good weather throughout the day have already been ordered in abundance. In the highly unlikely event of bad weather (remember this is summertime in northern Europe!), we'll scrub watching the eclipse and just get on with the party. Preparations for the mechoui will start as soon as practical after the eclipse, and the party is expected to go on well into the evening (to give those who want to plenty of time to get totally eclipsed!). It is hoped that Mensans from across Britain, Ireland, Europe and anywhere else (including Alpha Centauri) will come and join in the fun.

As the eclipse is likely to generate a lot of interest nearer the time, it is important that we get our plans sorted out as soon as possible: in particular to arrange the party venue and to get an idea of the numbers coming. Early booking of travel and accommodation will also be a priority before places get sold out. You are therefore requested to register interest in this event by contacting one of the following:

before 15th September 1998 (for those dialling from outside the UK, substitute the leading ‘0’ with ‘00 44’).

It is hoped that information to help with travel and accommodation will also be available shortly (you may wish, as others are doing, to plan a few days holiday around this event). Early unconfirmed reports suggest that a five-day return ticket to France for a car plus up to 9 bodies will cost just £45 by X-channel ferry, or £55 by Le Shuttle, if booked before the end of February 1999.

Note: Because of the vagaries of the weather there is no guarantee that you will get to see the eclipse from any part of its track across Europe; but then, since when was it necessary to have a good excuse for a party?

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