The Cosmic Mirror

of News events across the Universe

Compiled and written by Daniel Fischer, Skyweek - older "Mirrors" in the Archive - and find out what the future might bring!

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Update # 143 of August 14th, 1999 at 18:00 UTC
Core segments were posted from a nice Internet Cafe in Varna, Bulgaria, from Aug. 8...11!

Breath-taking corona, colorful prominences greet lucky eclipse chasers - at Bulgaria's Black Sea Coast

Clouds all over Europe spoil view for many, but various amateurs succeed in finding last-minute holes / Cloud-free skies only from Bulgaria to Iran / First science experiments report good data

Not one cloud has spoiled the view of the outstanding maximum corona of 11 Aug 1999 for those who had followed the NASA Eclipse Bulletin's advice and travelled to Bulgaria's Black Sea coast. Our group of observers - participants of the international pro-am planetary science conference "MEPCO'99" in Varna - had gone to Shabla, basically on the center line. And we were treated with a fantastic maximum corona, full of minute detail, arcs and streamers - and countless big prominences. Add to that the fine visibility of shadow bands for minutes after 3rd contact, plus bright Venus 15 degrees from the Sun, and the experience was complete.

Only a few days before the eclipse tourism had picked up in the eclipsed north-eastern corner of Bulgaria, and it were mainly Bulgarians who had come (often driving for many hours in their cars), to be joined by tourist buses from the famous sea resorts along north of Varna. Eclipse commerce - which had been heavy in central Europe - had been all but absent: on one hand a missed business opportunity that especially the rural areas of Bulgaria could have needed, on the other hand an occasion for an almost serene atmosphere for observations of Nature's greatest spectacle under perfect conditions. Only in a few spots people had crowded, e.g. at Cape Kaliakra and at a Techno party near Cape Shabla.

Added to the excellent viewing conditions were the great hospitality of Bulgaria's people plus the many astronomical attractions of this much under-rated Balkan country (undeservedly ignored in nearly all pre- and post-eclipse media reports) - this became one of the best eclipse and travel experiences I've ever had, somewhat fitting for the occasion when the last umbra of the Millennium was seconds from leaving the European continent. And this was total eclipse number 9 for me (and central eclipse number 12) ...

Daniel Fischer

Stay tuned for a more detailled report from Bulgaria and "ASTROMANIA'99" (they really called it that way in a Bulgarian astronomy magazine) on this website in a few days! Here is another report from the trip by G. Dittie.

News stories on the eclipse from NASA, CNN, the BBC (an earlier report, stories from the UK, Iran and India, on the experience and on eclipse science), MSNBC (another story), and SpaceViews.
Collected wire service pictures at the Rhein-Zeitung, the Rheinische Post, ZDF-MSNBC and AP.
Eclipse Science Programs: Pasachoff - a success! SECIS. JOSO.
Personal Reports Collections: a BBC collection, reports to AAG Mainz, Astro!nfo, and Sky & Telescope.
Early individual reports from Sarreguemines (F), Epinonville (F), Landau (GER), Ramstein (GER) with nice prominences, Karlsruhe (GER), Malsch (GER), Stuttgart (GER), Wintzenbach (GER), Munich (GER), Nohfelden (A), Flachgau (A), Balchik (BUL), Shabla (BUL) - and from an airplane.
Report & Link collections from NASA, the Houston Chronicle,, Yahoo in English and German, the Rheinische Post, ZDF-MSNBC, MSNBC and the BBC (another front).
The "Homepage" of the Eclipse / The NASA Bulletin on the Eclipse / IAU Eclipses Homepage / NASA Eclipse Pages.
SOHO Pages / ESO Pages / VDS-Seiten / ESA Pages / NASA Pages / Astronomy Now Pages / Discovery Channel Pages / Exploratorium Pages / BdW-Seiten.
The eclipse from space: Eumetsat, Astronomy Now, ExploreZone - and the view from Mir.
Some eclipse previews of note (or particularly bizarre): NASA, Fla. Today, the NYT and CNN on great expectations, NASA, BBC, MSNBC and ESA on science plans, NASA on the pendulum mystery, GFZ on the eclipse and the Earth's B field, ESA on Einstein, ExploreZone on when there won't be total eclipses anymore, IDG on webcast-mania, RP on fears by the youth and the BBC on esoteric nonsense...
And if you want a permanent eclipse (kind of): the latest SOHO solar images (dutch mirror)!

Deep Space One: Close encounter with Braille, picture taking botched

The flyby of the experimental spacecraft Deep Space One of the small asteroid Braille on July 29th was a mixed success: The space probe did get amazingly close to the target, thanks to its Autonomous Navigation system (and some help from Earth). But the camera lost track of the asteroid before closest approach, and only very distant views were possible - with the object just a few pixels across. Other science data obtained during the flyby were even more valuable, though: Infrared spectra taken by an instrument on DS1 showed that Braille very closely resembled the large main-belt asteroid Vesta, and may well be a chunk of Vesta blown off in a collision millions of years ago.

DS 1 News from the JPL!
DS 1 Braille science results: JPL and NASA Press Releases, CNN, Fla. Today, Astronomy Now,, SpaceViews stories; a DLR report (in German).
DS 1 flyby report: Mission status on July 29 and 30, NASA Science News, Fla. Today ( earlier story), and SpaceViews stories, current Mission Log.

Lunar Prospector - vanished on the Moon without a trace ...

Even two weeks after the Lunar Prospector was deliberately crashed into a crater on the lunar South pole, no observatory has reported any indication of clear-cut effects. Neither had anyone - professional or amateur - reported any sightings of a plume of dust nor have spectroscopes at large telescopes revealed any convincing emission features. "Several observatories have now reported how their observations went," the central website of the project reported Aug. 3rd: "As expected for a one-shot event, there were a few glitches. However, several places had very good weather and took their planned sequences of observations. While none of the larger observatories so far report having detected a clear dust plume, this was to be expected. All those with good data are now going to begin the detailed analysis of what they saw. This analysis may take days to weeks, depending on the exact details." with - so far not so many - updates.
The scientists' page, also with updates.
The final status report.
NASA reports of July 28 (eclipse survived) and July 31.
Early news coverage: ABC, BBC (later report), CNN, SpaceViews,, Fla. Today.
Prospector Science before the crash:, SpaceViews.
Next: a commercial lunar orbiter? A TransOrbital Press Release, website ...

Next Shuttle mission delayed by wiring worries

An ongoing investigation into wiring damage discovered in the shuttle Columbia after its recent mission will delay the launch of the next shuttle mission by several weeks, NASA announced on August 12: CNN, MSNBC, SpaceViews stories. The STS-93 incident: Fla Today, SpaceViews, pictures of the wire damage!

Cassini's ready for Earth flyby

The last, crucial orbital tweak on August 11th - the day of the eclipse - went as well as all others, so the Saturn orbiter's close flyby at Earth on August 18th will take place as planned: Status Report, SpaceViews, ExploreZone, Cassini News from

NEAR on direct course to Eros

A 2-minute hydrazine engine burn on August 12th has put the NASA Discovery Program's NEAR spacecraft on a direct path to intercept asteroid 433 Eros early next year: Status Report.

Existence of asteroid families confirmed - the hypothesis from 1918 that many asteroids belong to 'families' of common origin is correct: MIT Press Release.

Sharpest-ever Mars images show dynamic planet

Newly released images from NASA's Mars Global Surveyor show that the red planet is a different place today than it was two years ago when the spacecraft arrived - a world constantly reshaped by forces of nature including shifting sand dunes, monster dust devils, wind storms, frosts and polar ice caps that grow and retreat with the seasons: JPL Press Release, SpaceViews.

UK funds Mars Express Lander and other projects - the government has announced a new investment of 19.5 mio. pounds into several new space projects, including 5 mio. into the Beagle 2 Mars lander: Beagle 2 News, Mars Express, Press Release, ESA Release, Fla. Today, Astronomy Now, SpaceViews stories.

Details of the Mars Sample Return missions of 2003 and 2005 are discussed by

No Chinese manned mission soon?

China, which was earlier thought to be planning its first launch of humans into orbit as early as late this year, may not attempt such a mission until 2005, a Chinese news agency reported this week: SpaceViews. More China space developments from MSNBC.

And what are the North Koreans up to? Perhaps another test launch of their space (?) rocket is near: Fla. Today.

Iridium files for bankruptcy!

The future of the pioneering global satellite phone company had already gotten dark on the day of the great eclipse when it had to confess that it had defaulted on two lines of credit, one for $800 million and the other for $750 million - two days later Iridium LCC filed for bankruptcy in the US Bankruptcy Court in Delaware: Press Release,, SpaceViews.

Chandra in final orbit, sunshade door open!

A final thruster burn early August 7th has placed the Chandra X-Ray Observatory into a 139 188 x 9655 km orbit, close enough to the plan, and on Aug. 12th the big door was opened: Status of Aug. 7 and 12, SpaceViews, CNN (an earlier story on orbit problems).

Extrasolar Giant Planet in Earth-like Orbit

A new extrasolar planet has been found at the ESO La Silla Observatory as a companion to the 5 mag star iota Horologii, with an orbital period of 320 days: ESO Press Release.

Did many stars swallow their giant planets? Hubble found some indirect evidence as 4 to 8 percent of the stars in the Milky Way release excessive amounts of infrared light, spin rapidly and are polluted with the element lithium: STScI Press Release, MSNBC, BBC stories.

SeaWind radar captures typhoon Olga

NASA's newly launched ocean-viewing radar instrument, SeaWinds, has been able to capture the fury of Typhoon Olga as it grew in intensity last week in the China Sea: JPL Press Release. The instrument also observed hurricane Dora.

  • Hubble views of Jupiter's GRS show evolution: STScI Press Release.
  • The aurorae of Io have been observed in detail by Galileo: a paper & pictures, CNN, SpaceViews.
  • SETI@home approaches 1 mio. users: SpaceViews. The system is overloaded:

  • Dancing coronal loops were imaged by TRACE: GSFC ftp site.
  • NASA budget not be discussed until September: Fla. Today, SpaceViews. $400m had already been restored.
  • New computer installed on Mir ahead of time: SpaceViews. Old one was accidentally shut down: Fla. Today. Current crew the last? BBC.

  • Human error behind recent space failures: SpaceViews. Turbopump failed in Proton: SpaceViews, ILS Press Release. New Ikonos launch set to September 24:
  • News releases from the ACM Meeting in late July are collected here.
  • And don't forget the Perseids that are just peaking: NASA Science News, MSFC News (the ballon has ruptured, though: NASA Science News, and an MSNBC story.

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    Compiled and written by Daniel Fischer
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