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1999 Total Solar Eclipse and Time Zones

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Time can be measured in a number of ways. For instance, we can measure the passage of time via the orbital motion of Earth and other planets in the solar system (Dynamical Time). Or we can measure time based on the rotation of Earth on its axis with respect to the stars (Universal Time). Finally, we can measure time through the oscillations of atoms (International Atomic Time).

Universal Time or UT is the precise measure of time used as the basis for all civil time-keeping. Although their exact definitions differ, most readers can assume that Universal Time is equivalent to Greenwich Mean Time or GMT. Universal Time is actually based on the mean sidereal time as measured in Greenwich, England. It's also approximately equal to mean solar time from Greenwich.

Like most astronomical calculations, eclipse predictions are usually presented in terms of Universal Time. In order to convert eclipse predictions from UT to local time, you need to know what time zone you are in. For the total solar eclipse of 1999, the path of totality passes through a number of time zones and the conversion from UT to local standard time is as follows:

              United Kingdom    =  UT
              Central Europe    =  UT + 1 hour
              Eastern Europe    =  UT + 2 hours
              Turkey            =  UT + 2 hours
              Iraq              =  UT + 3 hours
              Iran              =  UT + 3 hours 30 minutes
              Pakistan & India  =  UT + 5 hours 30 minutes

During the summer months, most of Europe moves its clock forward 1 hour for Daylight Savings Time or Summer Time. If you are in a country that uses Daylight Savings Time, then the conversion from Universal Time to Daylight Savings Time is as follows:

              United Kingdom    =  UT + 1 hour
              Central Europe    =  UT + 2 hour
              Eastern Europe    =  UT + 3 hours

This information is unofficial and is provided only as a guideline. To find the time zone used in a specific country in Europe, see Local Times Zones in Europe. Time zones for countries around the world can be determined with a special Time Zone Map courtesy of the HM Nautical Almanac Office, Royal Greenwich Observatory. Since time zones and local time are legislated individually by each sovereign nation, you may also want to check with a country's embassy to verify the time zone in use. Remember to also inquire about the use of daylight savings in that nation.

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For more information on time reconing and time zones, check out the following sites:

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Eclipse Predictions & Webmaster: Fred Espenak
Planteary Systems Laboratory - Code 693

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland 20771 USA

Last revised: 1999 Jun 16 - F. Espenak