Last Sunday’s total lunar eclipse, more often referred to as a ‘blood moon,’ was pretty impressive.
As I peered into the nighttime sky, I felt both inspired and in awe, especially as the Earth’s shadow began to creep across the bright full moon, turning it a deep, bloody red.
A so-called ‘blood moon’ occurs when a full moon is completely within the dark umbral shadow of the Earth, and the only sunlight able to reach is a red light that has been filtered and refracted by the Earth’s atmosphere. One cannot help but wonder what primitive man thought when they too looked up at the night sky and witnessed such a phenomena.
I wonder how many other people were looking up into the night sky last Sunday. I know that both Donovan and Arlo Guthrie watched the eclipse because they posted the fact on Facebook. I am friends with both of them on Facebook. Not that either of them even know I exist. We are not friends in real life, merely though the wonders of social media and the Internet. I wouldn’t mind being friends with either of them in real life – but I digress. I wonder if Bob Dylan saw the eclipse, or Pope Francis or Brother Guy Consolmagno, who is the official astronomer at the Vatican. I heard a very interesting interview with Brother Consolmagno on CBC Radio a while ago. He stated he saw no conflict between science and religion, which I thought was pretty interesting. I would like to meet Brother Consolmagno, or at least sit in on one of his talks. One thing for sure, I wouldn’t mind being the proverbial fly on the wall listening to a conversation between Pope Francis and Brother Consolmagno, or the Pope and Bob Dylan for that matter – but again I digress.
From past experience and in preparation for last Sunday’s eclipse, I made sure to dress warm. As it happened, the evening was fairly cool. I wore my polypropylene long johns with another pair of wool Stanfield’s over top. I also got to wear a new jacket (that was given to me recently as a present) that has built in heater strips that run off a rechargeable battery. As I sat there in the comfort of an Adirondack chair in my front yard, peering up at the moon, I was both warm and content. Perhaps it was because I was tired from having driven all day returning from the East Kootenays, or perhaps it was because my mind tends to wander a bit at the best of times, but I know that I enjoyed the beginning of the eclipse, as well as the latter stages.
Somewhere in the middle I fell asleep.
It was, to say the least, an interesting experience waking up outside with the moon shrouded in an eerie blood red.
Sunday’s full moon was also unique in a number of other ways. It was what is referred to as a ‘super moon,’ which means that it was the largest and closest (a scant 356,877 kilometres away from Earth) full moon of 2015. It was also what is commonly referred to as a ‘harvest moon,’ which refers to the fact that it is the full moon occurring closest to the autumnal equinox. The next time a total lunar eclipse will coincide with a harvest moon will be on Sept. 7, 2025.
For those with an interest in astronomy, there are a number of other events that will occur next month. Four planets – Mercury, Venus, Mars and Jupiter – will be visible with to naked eye converging and passing each other in the eastern skies during the hours just before sunrise. I’m not sure if I will be getting up early to see four specs in the sky, but I do look forward to the next total lunar eclipse which will take place on January 20, 2019. Maybe I’ll be able to stay awake the whole time for that one.