AN ASTRONOMY-MAD couple who travelled 5,000 miles to photograph the full solar eclipse have described the unreal moment they saw the 'sun switched off with a dimmer switch'.

Mary and Mark McIntyre, who took this incredible set of pictures, said the two-minute total eclipse they watched in a field in Wyoming was 'of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring sights' they had ever seen.

To make the event even more special, the pair who live just north of Oxford were actually celebrating their honeymoon, having married in October.

The couple, both amateur astronomers, flew with Mr McIntyre's 17-year-old daughter and 14-year-old son 4,600 miles to Denver, Colorado then got up at 2am to drive three hours to get to Glendo State Park in Wyoming to watch the celestial event alongside more than 200,000 others on Monday, August 21.

Mrs McIntyre said: "When we arrived there was already a buzz in the park, which was filling up quickly."

The family quickly but carefully unpacked their car-load of high-tech gear: four digital SLR cameras, plus special handmade eclipse lenses and eclipse glasses.

The show began at 10.20am, when the edge of the moon began to move across the disc of the sun.

Mrs McIntyre said: "Eighty minutes later we could see the light of the sun slowly beginning to get dimmer and we noticed that our shadows were much sharper than usual.

"Then, at 11.46am it was suddenly like the sun had been turned off with a dimmer switch: the temperature dropped and the crickets and grasshoppers became quiet.

"We saw the first 'diamond ring' as the moon slipped into position and totality began."

For the first time in more than an hour, the crowd were able to look up at the sky unprotected.

Mrs McIntyre said: "We took off our eclipse glasses and saw that the sun’s corona (outer atmosphere) was clearly visible.

"It was one of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring sights we've ever seen."

Another weird affect of the eclipse was that the horizon became red in every direction, producing a 360-degree 'totality sunset', adding to the other-worldly feel.

Mrs McIntyre said: "The two minutes of totality was over in what felt like five seconds, then we had the second 'diamond ring' as the moon began to move away from the sun.

"Suddenly it was like the dimmer switch had been turned back up again; the temperature rapidly returned to normal and the insects began singing again.

"We put our eclipse glasses back on and watched until the moon had completely left the sun at 1.15pm."

Returned to 'reality', the McIntyres had to get back in the car and battle with some 400,000 cars on the road back to Colorado.

By the time they finally got to bed at 3.30am on the Tuesday, the family had been up for 28 hours after just three hours sleep.

Mrs McIntyre said: "This was a new level of exhaustion none of us had ever experienced – but it was totally worth it."

Now, it seems, the honeymooners have well and truly caught the eclipse-chasing bug.

Mrs McIntyre said: "There won’t be a total solar eclipse in the UK in our lifetime, but there are two in Chile and Argentina in 2019 and 2020, USA in 2024 and Spain in 2026, so there is a strong chance we’ll be going to at least one of those!"