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The last eclipse of the previous millennium 1999 (German)

The 1999 eclipse passed through the southern part of Germany. There are many very impressive medals were made on the occasion. Let's see what were struck in the German-speaking world.

Right at the obverse the first declares that Germany is in the middle of the total solar eclipse: "11 AUGUST 1999 - DEUTSCHLAND IM ZENTRUM EINER TOTALEN SONNENFINSTERNIS". In the center the artistic representation of the inner Solar System, extending to the Mars's orbit is displayed. The reverse is also interesting, it seems that the artist knew the commemorative medal of the 1868 eclipse and copied almost exactly Alphée Dubois's work.

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The next coin shows the geometric explanation of the eclipse and the corona of the Sun at the moment of totality.

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The third medal shows the path of totality over Europe. The legend: "LETZTE SONNENFINSTERNIS IN DIESEM JAHRTAUSEND" that is the last eclipse of the millennium. On the reverse the names of major German cities that fell into the lane of totality and three phases of eclipse are displayed. The medal shown here is made of tin, but copies made of silver are also exist.

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Rastatt city issued a medal for the event. On the obverse the so called diamond ring status of the eclipse is depicted, when the Sun's rays shine trough the mountains of the moon as a gemstone on the top of a bright ring. This condition lasts only for seconds immediately before and after the onset of totality. On the reverse the main square of the city is pictured.

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On the obverse of the following coin also the geometric explanation of the eclipse is displayed. On the reverse the totality state over a city is visible, as set in the darkness and the stars appeared.

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At the time, in much less prevalent way a color medal was made of the event. On the obverse two observers wearing eclipse viewer glasses follow-up the event while standing next to a telescope. Ahead of them, the eclipse's growing phases can be seen.

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Both the 1706 and the 1999 eclipse crossed over the city Ludwigsburg. The city got its name from the similarly named palace, whose foundation-stone was laid at 1704. Surrounding the palace the ruler, prince Eberhard Ludwig populated the city from 1715, allowing 15 tax-free-years for the settlers. I was not able to revels what was the connection between the eclipse of 1706 and the building of the palace, but it must have been important, if it appeared again on a medal in 1999. On obverse the disk of the Sun with both dates of eclipses engraved appears above. In the center the Moon and its shadow path over the schematized globe of Earth is visible. The letter L must mean the city. Around the issuer names are displayed, the Bank of Ludwigsburg and the Medal-Friends of Ludwigsburg. On the reverse the view of the palace and the name of the city were depicted. As visible on the map above the city – that is located 12 km to north from Stuttgart – was touched by the edge of totality path of the 1706 eclipse, while the last eclipse of the last millennium was almost centered above it.

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Finally, a medal which, although was made before 1990, gives accurate information presented with German precision of all European eclipses from 1990 to 1999. A list of solar eclipses visible from Europe is displayed on the obverse of the medal, while in the middle of the coin the map of Europe is drawn with the totality bands and times. From the outside legend of the coin, we know when the an eclipse can be observed: "ENTSTEHEN BEI NEUMOND . WENN SONNE . MOND . ERDE MAHE EINER GERADEN LIEGEN", i. e. at new moon, when the Sun, Moon and Earth line up. The second circle from the outside is divided into sectors, each with a precise date of an eclipse. On the sector immediately below it three abbreviation characterize the eclipse. As explained in the text of the innermost circle N. is for the Northern Hemisphere (NORDHALBKUGEL) E. for Europe , D. eclipse visible from Germany. The type of eclipse can be total (to. i. e. TOTAL), ring(ri. i. e. RINGFÖRMIG) or partial (pa. i. e. PARTIELL). The map of Europe was put up to the center of the medal with bands of the three major eclipse.

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On the reverse the list of lunar eclipses visible from Europe is displayed in a similar system. Geometric explanation of the event is also similar: "ENTSTEHEN BEI VOLLMOND . WENN SONNE . ERDE . MOND MAHE EINER GERADEN LIEGEN", i. e. that can be observed during a full moon, when the Sun, Earth and Moon line up. Since lunar eclipses - in contrast with the solar eclipses – can be observed all places, from where the Moon is seen, so the viewing location is omitted, only partial or complete phase, and the maximum phase time is displayed. In the center of the coin the Moon's facing side the can be seen with the seas and impact craters.

The medal teaches us that from Europe 9-9 solar and lunar eclipses were visible in the 11-year period in question.

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The path of totality through Germany during the total solar eclipse 11 August 1999