Saturday, November 08, 2003

Blinded by the Moon 

Were you there? Did you see it? Everybody who's anybody was there...the Sun, the Moon, the Stars, and the Earth...

My husband and I just got in from watching tonight's Total Lunar Eclipse from the back yard. Eclipses happen when the Moon and Earth fall into line with each other and the Sun. In tonight's case, the Earth moved into a direct line between the Moon and the Sun, stopping all light from reaching the Moon, hence the 20 minute (or so) blackout. Very cool.

My cheeks are rosy and my fingers are typing rather stiffly thanks to the frosty temperatures. My husband's telescope let us get up close and personal with the Sea of Crisis (AKA as the Man in the Moon's right eye) and Tycho (the youngest crater visible to the eye -- a mere babe at 190 million years old). I didn't know these facts a mere two hours ago, but thanks to decent Internet search techniques, I was able to find a great map of the Moon to quench our curiosity with.

The Moon through the telescope was so bright I felt temporarily blinded each time I stepped away from the lens. The non-eclipsed portion of the Moon looked as though it had an electric blue halo surrounding it. I thought I was imagining things, but my husband said he could see it too. Just before the Moon was almost totally eclipsed (a few minutes after 8, here) it seemed to turn reddish brown to the naked eye. I read that this has something to do with the total effect of clouds and haze elsewhere around the globe.

I also read that there are a loads of legends associated with eclipses. In Tahiti, for instance, eclipses have been interpreted as the lovemaking of the Sun and Moon. (How sexy is that? All that heat!) In India, however, eclipses are considered inauspicious and people are conditioned to believe that sexual encounters will end in disaster.

Think about it: a Lunar Eclipse always occurs at night (duh), during a Full Moon, and eclipses -- just like lovers -- always occur in pairs. A Lunar Eclipse takes place two weeks before or two weeks after a Solar Eclipse. (In this case, the Solar Eclipse is coming up two weeks after, on November 23rd, so if you missed it this time around, mark your calendar.) Maybe it is this coupled combination that romanticizes the event.

Works for me!

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