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1991 Total Solar Eclipse

Photo Gallery B

Photographs by Fred Espenak

1991 Jul 11 Total Solar Eclipse
Celestial Diamond Ring - 1991 Jul 11
The diamond ring effect is seen during the Total Solar Eclipse of 1991 July 11.

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.

T91wide23n
Sky Before Totality
(T91wide23n)

Sky Before Totality (T91wide23w)

A 16mm wide angle fisheye lens captures the sky and Sun just five minutes before totality. The brilliant solar crescent is much to bright to look at directly, in spite of the fact that over 95% of the Sun's disk is covered.

Total Solar Eclipse of 1991 July 11 (San Jose del Cabo, Baja, MEXICO)
Nikon FE, Nikkor 16mm Fisheye Lens
Photo 1991 by Fred Espenak

T91wide27n
Sky During Totality
(T91wide27n)

Sky During Totality (T91wide27w)

The lunar shadow brings an eriee twilight of totality as the dazzling Sun is replaced by the ghostly corona and black disk of the Moon. A 16mm wide angle fisheye lens captures the scene. The planet Venus can be seen as a tiny star half-way between the eclipsed Sun and the horizon.

Total Solar Eclipse of 1991 July 11 (San Jose del Cabo, Baja, MEXICO)
Nikon FE, Nikkor 16mm Fisheye Lens
Photo 1991 by Fred Espenak

TSE91-213An.JPG
Far Outer Corona
(TSE91-213Aw.JPG)

Far Outer Corona (TSE91-213Aw)

Faint outer streamers and coronal detail can be seen in this eight second exposure.Of course, the inner corona is completely overexposed because conventional photographic film does not have the dynamic range to correctly expose both the bright inner and faint outer corona simultaneously. Digital processing is needed capture what the human eye observes (see Composite Corona photo below).

Total Solar Eclipse of 1991 July 11 (San Jose del Cabo, Baja, MEXICO)
Nikon FE, Tamron SP500 (500mm f/8 lens), 8 seconds on Kodachrome 64
Photo 1991 by Fred Espenak

TSE91-213Bn.JPG
Dark Side
of the Moon
(TSE91-213Bw.JPG)

Dark Side of the Moon (TSE91-213Bw)

The previuos image (Far Outer Corona) can be computer enhanced to reveal faint features on the dark side of the Moon. Lunar Mare and brighter southern highlands (left side of Moon image) invisible to the eye are captured by the camera. During a total solar eclipse, the dark side of the Moon faces Earth and is bathed in the bright light of a "Full Earth." From the Moon, the Earth appears four times the diameter and 125 times brighter than does the Moon from Earth.

Total Solar Eclipse of 1991 July 11 (San Jose del Cabo, Baja, MEXICO)
Nikon FE, Tamron SP500 (500mm f/8 lens), 8 seconds on Kodachrome 64
Photo 1991 by Fred Espenak

TSE91-3suball2n.JPG
Structural Detail
in the Corona
(TSE91-3suball2w.JPG)

Structural Detail in the Corona (TSE91-3suball2w)

Nine separate photographs shot at different exposures were digitized, computer processed and combined into one image which reveals subtle details in the Sun's corona. Such images can be used to study the structure of the corona, or to be reconstituted into a photograph which shows the coronas naked eye appearance. (See: Composite Corona below).

Total Solar Eclipse of 1991 July 11 (San Jose del Cabo, Baja, MEXICO)
Nikon FE, Tamron SP500 (500mm f/8 lens), 1/60 to 8 seconds on Kodachrome 64
Photo 1991 by Fred Espenak

TSE91-2cmpXn.JPG
Composite Corona
(TSE91-2cmpXw.JPG)

Composite Corona (TSE91-2cmpXw)

Nine separate exposures were computer processed and combined to approximate the actual appearance of the corona to the naked eye. Even the sky background has been adjusted to a the dark blue color as it appeared. This composite image was made exclusively from photographs shot with a 500mm mirror lens.

Total Solar Eclipse of 1991 July 11 (San Jose del Cabo, Baja, MEXICO)
Nikon FE, Tamron SP500 (500mm f/8 lens), 1/60 to 8 seconds on Kodachrome 64
Photo 1991 by Fred Espenak

T91-Move1n.GIF
Moon's Motion
(T91-Move1w.GIF)

Moon's Motion (T91-Move1w)

One of the reasons that the 1991 total eclipse lasted so long is because the Moonwas close to Earth in its elliptical orbit (perigee) so its disk appeared 6% larger than the Sun. As a result, the Moon's motion with respect to the corona and prominances was quite dramatic. This two image sequence shows the Moon's position with respect to the Sun at both the beginning and near the end of totality.Note how the Moon covers and uncovers prominences along the East and West limbs of the Sun.

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

TSE91-4cmp1Dw
Astonishing Corona
(TSE91-4cmp1Dn)

Astonishing Corona (TSE91-4cmp1Dn)

A computer enhanced image of the solar corona was created by combining fourteen separate exposures into a single photograph. The contrast has been artificially exaggerated to reveal a wealth of subtle details and streamers in the corona. The faint star to the lower left is the star Delta Geminorum.

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

TSE91-4cmpEn.JPG
Northwest Corona
(TSE91-4cmpEw.JPG)

Northeast Corona (TSE91-4cmpEw)

A close up view of the northeastern quadrant of the corona reveals details in streamers and ruby red prominences. Fourteen separate negatives shot with two different telescopes were computer processed and combined to create an image which closly captures the visual appearance of the corona. The process reveals the subtle structure and features which are difficult to capture using conventional photographic techniques. The faint star one diameter south (below) of the eclipsed Sun is the 2nd magnitude star Delta Geminorum.
(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

TSE91-4cmpWn.JPG
Southern Corona
(TSE91-4cmpWw.JPG)

Western Corona (TSE91-4cmpWw)

A close up view of the western quadrant of the corona reveals details in streamers and the magnificent "sea-horse" prominence. Fourteen separate negatives shot with two different telescopes were computer processed and combined to create an image which closly captures the visual appearance of the corona. The process reveals the subtle structure and features which are difficult to capture using conventional photographic techniques. The faint star one diameter west (below) of the eclipsed Sun is the 2nd magnitude star Delta Geminorum.

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

TSE91-bead3An.JPG
Baily's Beads Sequence
at 3rd Contact
(TSE91-bead3Aw.JPG)

Baily's Beads Sequence at 3rd Contact (TSE91-bead3Aw)

The appearance of Baily's beads signals the end of totality. This sequence of five images shows the bright beads quickly forming to merge into a brilliant crescent. The Sun's chromosphere and the seahorse shaped prominence soon vanish in the glare as does the solar corona.

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

TSE91-130An
Totality Ends
(TSE91-130A)

Totality Ends (TSE91-130A)

The total eclipse ends as Baily's Beads reappear along the west limb of the Moon. Formed by sunlight shinning through deep lunar valleys, the beads quickly merge together into a thin crescent.

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

TSE91-135An
Diamond Ring
at 3rd Contact
(TSE91-135A)

Diamond Ring at 3rd Contact (TSE91-135A)

At the end of totality, the emerging crescent of sunlight appears as a brilliant diamond set along one edge of the silver white ring of the corona.

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

TSE91-137An
Dazzling Diamond
(TSE91-137A)

Dazzling Diamond (TSE91-137A)

The total eclipse ends as a dazzling jewel of sunlight bursts into view. Within seconds, the corona will fade from view as daylight and the brilliant glare of the Sun return.

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
Custom Print Available

TSE91-137Bn
Blue Diamond
(TSE91-137B)

Blue Diamond (TSE91-137B)

After totality ends the diamond ring reappears. As the jewel-like bead of Sun and the blue sky grow brighter, the corona fades and is soon lost from view.

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-TrioBn
Diamond Trio
(TSE91-TrioB)

Diamond Trio (TSE91-TrioB)

A sequence of three images captures 3rd contact and the end of totality. Baily's Beads appear and merge into the returning crescent Sun as the sky grows brighter. It is then that you ask yourself "When and where is the next total eclipse?!"

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
Custom Print Available

T91amigos33n
Three Amigos!
(T91amigos33n)

Three Amigos! (T91amigos33w)

After observing an outrageously successful total eclipse, Jim Manning, Fred Espenak and Rick Feinberg toast to VICTORY with icy cold bottles of appropriately named CORONA beer!

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

TSE91-GOESn
Eclipse From Space
(TSE91-GOESn)

Eclipse From Space (TSE91-GOESw)

A series of eight GOES satellite images captures the Moon's shadow as it sweeps across the Pacific and down across Mexico and Central America before leaving the Earth in Brazil.

Total Solar Eclipse of 1991 July 11
NASA - GOES images courtesy of MrEclipse.com



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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WebMaster: MrEclipse
Last revised: 2007 Dec 23