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1991 Total Solar Eclipse

Photo Gallery A

Photographs by Fred Espenak

1991 Jul 11 Total Solar Eclipse
1999 Total Solar Eclipse
This photo is a composite made from fourteen separate exposures.
Computer processing was used to emphasize and reveal subtle details and structures in the solar corona.

On July 11, 1991, the Big Island of Hawaii, Mexico and Central America were treated to a spectacular total eclipse of the Sun. A global map shows the region of visibility of this unusually long eclipse. From Mexico, the Sun stood nearly overhead during the total phase which lasted nearly seven minutes! This duration will not be exceeded until the year 2132! The next total eclipse visible from the United States will not occur until 2017 Aug 21.

The Experience of Totality is one never to be forgotten.In the last seconds as totality begins, the daytime sky is quickly replaced by an eerie twilight as the Moon's shadow sweeps across the landscape at speeds in excess of 1,200 mph. The bright Sun is suddenly extinguished and in its place stands the pitch black disk of the Moon surrounded by the gossimer, ethereal solar corona.All too quickly, totality ends and you realize you must see another one!

Fred Espenak traveled to San Jose del Cabo in southern Baja, Mexico for this memorable event. From a sandy beach with gentle waves from the Sea of Cortez softly lapping the shoreline, Espenak photographed the 1991 with a 90mm telescope, several cameras and a video camcorder. An assortment of Espenak's photographs appear below. For more 1991 eclipse images, visit both photo galleries: Gallery A and Gallery B

Blue Bar

Click on each image below to see a larger photo.

T91espenak10n
Ready for the Eclipse!
(T91espenak10n)

Ready for the Eclipse! (T91espenak10w)

Fred Espenak awaits totality under crystal clear skies in Baja, Mexico. His equipment consisted of a Celestron C90 telescope, a Tamron 500mm mirror lens, a Nikon 16mm fisheye lens and a Sony camcorder.

Total Solar Eclipse of 1991 July 11 (San Jose del Cabo, Baja, MEXICO)
Nikon FE
Photo 1991 by Fred Espenak

T91manning37n
Lucky Eclipse Hat
(T91manning37n)

Lucky Eclipse Hat (T91manning37w)

Jim Manning of the Taylor Planetarium in Bozeman dons his lucky eclipse hat to guarantee clear skies for the total eclipse. The fabulously clear skies offered an unprecidented view of the event.

Total Solar Eclipse of 1991 July 11 (San Jose del Cabo, Baja, MEXICO)
Nikon FE
Photo 1991 by Fred Espenak

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Viewing in Comfort
(T91fienberg17n)

Viewing in Comfort (T91fienberg17w)

Rick Fienberg of Sky Publishing Corp. decided to observe his first total eclipse in comfort. Binoculars equipt with quickly removable solar filters, a hand held diffraction grating and a reclining chase lounge gave Rick a front row view of the spectacle.

Total Solar Eclipse of 1991 July 11 (San Jose del Cabo, Baja, MEXICO)
Nikon FE
Photo 1991 by Fred Espenak

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Photographing the Eclipse
(T91espenak14n)

Photographing the Eclipse (T91espenak14w)

The partial phases of the eclipse last over one hour and climax with the onset of totality. Here, Fred Espenak photographs some of the partial phases as he verifies that all equipment is in functioning perfecly and ready for the all important total phase.

Total Solar Eclipse of 1991 July 11 (San Jose del Cabo, Baja, MEXICO)
Nikon FE
Photo 1991 by Fred Espenak

T91espenak21n
Some Final Adjustments
(T91espenak21n)

Some Final Adjustments (T91espenak21w)

Fred Espenak makes some final adjustments to his equipment shortly before the eclipse begins. The nearly seven minute total phase will not be exceeded by another eclipse until the year 2132.

Total Solar Eclipse of 1991 July 11 (San Jose del Cabo, Baja, MEXICO)
Nikon FE
Photo 1991 by Fred Espenak

TSE91-099ring2n
Azure Diamond Ring
(TSE91-099ring2w.JPG)

Azure Diamond Ring (TSE91-099ring2w)

In the final seconds preceeding totality, the thin crescent of the partially eclipsed Sun rapidly shrinks and the elusive halo of the corona fades into view. The spectacle takes on the appearance of a celestial diamond ring. This image has been computer processed to show the corona's appearance in the the darkening azure sky.

Total Solar Eclipse of 1991 July 11 (San Jose del Cabo, Baja, MEXICO)
Nikon FE, Celestron C90 (90mm f/11)
Photo 1991 by Fred Espenak

TSE91-100Bn
The Corona Appears
(TSE91-100Bw.JPG)

The Corona Appears (TSE91-100Bw)

Ten to twenty seconds before totality begins, the corona first first appears as the brilliant glare of the crescent Sun rapidly subsides.

Total Solar Eclipse of 1991 July 11 (San Jose del Cabo, Baja, MEXICO)
Nikon FE, Celestron C90 (90mm f/11)
Photo 1991 by Fred Espenak

TSE91-103ring2n
Diamond Bonita
(TSE91-103ring2w.JPG)

Diamond Bonita (TSE91-103ring2w)

Seconds before totality begins, the corona appears during the diamond ring effect. Brilliant, ruby-red prominences shine with laser-like intensity. Computer processing was used to show the corona's visual appearance in the darkening blue sky.

Total Solar Eclipse of 1991 July 11 (San Jose del Cabo, Baja, MEXICO)
Nikon FE, Celestron C90 (90mm f/11)
Photo 1991 by Fred Espenak
Custom Print Available

TSE91-104Bn
Baily's Beads
and Corona
(TSE91-104Bw.JPG)

Baily's Beads and Corona (TSE91-104Bw)

In the final few seconds before totality begins, the Sun's crescent breaks into several bright beads as sunlight shines through deep valleys along the Moon's limb. Brilliant, ruby-red prominences shine with laser-like intensity andthe corona becomes easier to see. Computer enhancement was used to show the corona's visual appearance.

Total Solar Eclipse of 1991 July 11 (San Jose del Cabo, Baja, MEXICO)
Nikon FE, Celestron C90 (90mm f/11)
Photo 1991 by Fred Espenak
Custom Print Available

TSE91-bead2An
Baily's Beads Sequence
at 2nd Contact
(TSE91-bead2Aw.JPG)

Baily's Beads Sequence at 2nd Contact (TSE91-bead2Aw)

The appearance of Baily's beads presages the start of totality. This rapid sequence of five images shows the Sun's crescent breaking up into a series of beads which quickly vanish against a background of spectacular prominences and the chromosphere.

Total Solar Eclipse of 1991 July 11 (San Jose del Cabo, Baja, MEXICO)
Nikon FE, Celestron C90 (90mm f/11), 1/125 second on Kodachrome 64
Photo 1991 by Fred Espenak
Custom Print Available

TSE91-104+105n
Baily's Beads
as Totality Begins
(TSE91-104+105w)

Baily's Beads as Totality Begins (TSE91-104+105w)

Just seconds before totality begins, the last beads of sunlight shine through deep valleys along the Moon's rugged limb.The phenomenon was first described by English astronomer Frances Baily when he observed an annular eclipse in 1836.

Total Solar Eclipse of 1991 July 11 (San Jose del Cabo, Baja, MEXICO)
Nikon FE, Celestron C90 (90mm f/11), 1/250 second on Kodachrome 64
Photo 1991 by Fred Espenak

T91-Con2n.GIF
Animation of
2nd Contact
(T91-Con2.GIF)

Animation of 2nd Contact (T91-Con2w)

A GIF animation captures the formation of Baily's beads just preceeding 2nd contact and the beginning of totality. This animation sequence of nine images shows the Sun's crescent breaking up into a series of beads which quickly vanish against a background of spectacular prominences and the chromosphere.Baily's Beads are formed in deep valleys along the Moon's limb which permit a last glimpse of the Sun's bright photosphere before vanishing with totality.

Total Solar Eclipse of 1991 July 11 (San Jose del Cabo, Baja, MEXICO)
Nikon FE, Celestron C90 (90mm f/11)
Photo 1991 by Fred Espenak

TSE91-112An
Prominences
(TSE91-112Aw.JPG)

Prominences (TSE91-112Aw)

At long total solar eclipses like 1991, the Moon appears up to 7% larger than the Sun and consequently hides much of the innermost corona and prominences. Nevertheless, several spectacular prominences were seen during the 1991 eclipse. The huge prominence at the bottom was nicknamed the "seahorse" because of its uncanny resembalence to the ocean creature. This photograph was taken near the end of totality.

Total Solar Eclipse of 1991 July 11 (San Jose del Cabo, Baja, MEXICO)
Nikon FE, Celestron C90 (90mm f/11), 1/250 second on Kodachrome 64
Photo 1991 by Fred Espenak

TSE91-114An
Inner Corona
(TSE91-114Aw.JPG)

Inner Corona (TSE91-114Aw)

The bright inner corona and brilliant red prominences are captured with a short short 1/60 second exposure. At such short exposures, the outer corona is to faint to image.

Total Solar Eclipse of 1991 July 11 (San Jose del Cabo, Baja, MEXICO)
Nikon FE, Celestron C90 (90mm f/11), 1/60 second on Kodachrome 64
Photo 1991 by Fred Espenak

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Middle Corona
(TSE91-117Aw.JPG)

Middle Corona (TSE91-117Aw)

A 1/4 second exposure captures structure in the middle corona while grossly overexposing the inner corona. This is a typical example of conventional photography which does not have the dynamic range to correctly expose both the bright inner corona and the much fainter outer corona simultaneously. To accomplish this feat, digital processing is needed (see Grand Corona photo below).

Total Solar Eclipse of 1991 July 11 (San Jose del Cabo, Baja, MEXICO)
Nikon FE, Celestron C90 (90mm f/11), 1/4 second on Kodachrome 64
Photo 1991 by Fred Espenak

TSE91-120n
Outer Corona
(TSE91-120w.JPG)

Outer Corona (TSE91-120w)

A long two second exposure captures faint details in the outer corona at the expense of the inner corona which is completely overexposed. This is a typical example of conventional photography which does not have the dynamic range to correctly expose both the bright inner corona and the much fainter outer corona simultaneously. To accomplish this feat, digital processing is needed (see Grand Corona photo below).

Total Solar Eclipse of 1991 July 11 (San Jose del Cabo, Baja, MEXICO)
Nikon FE, Celestron C90 (90mm f/11), 2 seconds on Kodachrome 64
Photo 1991 by Fred Espenak

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Grand Corona
(TSE91-4cmp1w.JPG)

Grand Corona (TSE91-4cmp1w)

Fourteen separate color slides shot with two different lenses were computer processed and combined to create an image which captures the visual appearance of the corona as closly as possible. (see: 2001 Composite Photo).

Total Solar Eclipse of 1991 July 11 (San Jose del Cabo, Baja, MEXICO)
1) Nikon FE, Celestron C90 (90mm f/11)
2) Nikon FE, Tamron SP500 (500mm f/8 lens)
Photo 1991 by Fred Espenak
Custom Print Available



1991 Total Solar Eclipse - More Photos and Reports

Solar Eclipse Photographs

Copyright Notice

All photographs, text and web pages are © Copyright 1991 by Fred Espenak, unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved. They may not be reproduced, published, copied or transmitted in any form, including electronically on the Internet or WWW, without written permission of the author. The photos have been digitally watermarked.

The photographs may be licensed for commercial, editorial, and educational use. Contact Espenak (at MrEclipse) for photo use in print, web, video, CD and all other media.

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Last revised: 2006 Oct 20