Lunar eclipse thrills skywatchers around the world

It was an  overcast Sunday, and the forecast did not  sound promising for watching the eclipse of the Super Harvest Blood Moon here in Chicago.  No consolation that there would be another lunar tetrad in  2033.  How often do we get to see an astronomical event here?  These sights are always  weather permitting.

Nevertheless, conditions seemed favorable elsewhere. The reports  on Twitter  were  decorated with hashtags and red moon emojis.

Saturday night, the moon was almost full, glowing through the clouds.  The full moon closest to the autumn equinox is  sometimes called the harvest moon.  At this  time, because of the tilt of the earth, the moonrise  is about 30 minutes later on successive days, instead of  50 minutes.  It seems  to us that there are several  full moons in a row!

Even behind clouds, the moon on  Saturday was round and bright. Eclipse or no, it was an impressive sight.

Sunday afternoon, the sky cleared.  Anticipation rose with the setting sun.  Then, more cloud cover. It  seemed  the NASA webcast and  Sky & Telescope livestream would be the only way to watch the eclipse from here.

I went outside to check one more time and caught a flash of light in the trees. The clouds were parting, and there was the moon!

The timing couldn’t have been more perfect.  The earth shadow was just beginning to tint the moon.  Down the street, neighbors sat on porch steps. There were telescopes and binoculars, and phones. It was an experience people wanted to share with friends and loved ones.  Husbands hurried inside to get their wives. Kids stayed up for the show.

The eclipse was framed in clouds through the trees. I debated heading  over to the expressway for an unobstructed view.  I could picture the moon over the expressway, the  movement of the eclipse above the rush of traffic.  Our busy, urgent lives in contrast to  this cosmic spectacle.

Babylonian eyes had seen this.  Chinese eyes. Mayan eyes. Druids had witnessed this at Stonehenge. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors had perhaps trembled in fear at the sight. Was the world coming to an end?   It is  not so hard to imagine, faced with such mystery.

As I watched the growing shadow,  I thought of many things.

Clouds obscured the eclipse  after totality, here.  The neighbors went inside.  As the moon emerged from the shadow, I headed  home.  A black cat greeted me,  rolling  on the sidewalk.  It was a beautiful  night.

Eclipses are moving and majestic,  a progression depicted on ancient clay tablets and  in time-lapse photography.  Some folks were already posting photos of the red moon online.   It was a clear night in the UK, California and Vancouver.   All over the world,  people were sharing  the  moon.

 

 

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Filed under: seasons, weather

Tags: blood moon, lunar eclipse

Comments

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  • I loved watching it. I hadn't had dinner so I made a pb&j and ate it on the balcony while my husband took pictures. It was a thrilling night. Great post!

  • Thanks, Kathy! I'm so glad we had a break in the clouds. It really was an awesome sight, wasn't it?

  • Love this. Your descriptions are lovely and fascinating. Thanks!

  • In reply to Laura E. Vasilion:

    Thank you so much!

  • I'm with Laura -- your descriptions are beautiful. How "old-fashioned" that we needed something literally cosmic to bring us together. Thanks for bringing attention to the world beyond us.

  • Thanks for reading.Glad you enjoyed it!

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