Thursday, April 17, 2014

What a Moon

Did you see the lunar eclipse a few days ago?

I did. In spite of myself. And it was pretty awesome.

The sky was partly cloudy that evening as we waited for the moon to rise, so John and I decided that we probably wouldn't be able to see the eclipse after looking at the bank of grey clouds heading our way. As we prepared for bed, I went around the house lowering the window shades and glanced out to the eastern sky.

Whoa. When did all the clouds roll away? I thought. It was a crystal clear night out there! And the moon was a gorgeous perfect pale white circle. I couldn't possibly go to sleep knowing that the eclipse was going to take place right over our heads. John told me that he was going to be able to sleep through it all perfectly well, thank you very much. So I smooched him good-night and began to think about the best place to view it all.

Turns out that the southeast window up in the Bearded Dog Pub -- AKA as my son's old bedroom repurposed into a billiards/darts/foosball room -- was perfect. I thought that I'd just plunk my hinder down onto one of the pub chairs to simply watch and wait. Just relax and take all this celestial beauty in, I told myself. But then I had the thought that this was a prime opportunity to take pictures...

See? Pointing squarely at the moon. Perfect for eclipse-watching. If it's night time, that is....

What followed was about three trips up and down the stairs collecting the camera, and tripod, and additional lenses, and...whew. I took a breather on one of the pub stools and was glad that I had another whole hour before the thing actually started. While I was sitting on the stool, it occurred to me that the recliner across the room would be far more comfortable, since I anticipated sitting for quite awhile while I watched, so I dragged the thing over to the window after pulling the pub table and chairs out of the way. I sank down into the cushions and decided that this was indeed a perfect chair in which to spend a few hours stargazing.

But......dang. That darned window screen would really mess up the pictures, I thought. I briefly thought about waking up John to ask him to muscle the thing out of there but thought that surely I could figure it out. After what seemed like forever, I had loosened the connectors and had the screen off the window and inside the house. I was tired but quite pleased with myself as I sat back down yet again, certain that I could really relax and quietly watch the sky show.

After a few minutes, I remembered hearing that NASA had put something up online about live streaming the eclipse from one of California's observatories for people that couldn't see it in person. How cool would it be to watch it on my computer AND in person? I marveled.

I staggered back down and up the steps to retrieve my laptop. And then made another trip for the power cord. I brought up the NASA site which was indeed live streaming amazing moon pictures.

Whew. It's hard work relaxing in front of this window! I told Lulu, who was trotting along with me up and down the stairs. I mopped my sweaty face with the hem of my nightgown and decided that it was time to put the camera on the tripod and take a few practice pictures.

I put Canon into his manual mode and started to change the iso and f-stop settings. And because I had completely pooped myself out chasing all over the house for the past hour, had tripped the TIRED = STUPID switch. I couldn't for the life of me remember how to do any of those things, and my pictures definitely were not what I had hoped for.

Good grief. To my eye, the moon was crisp and clear. Didn't translate that way for my camera. 

Sigh. One more trip downstairs for the owner's manual for the camera. Gee. I think those chew marks on this book were made by our very first schnauzer, Bart. Awww. good old Bartie. I miss that doggie boy...

By this time even though I had all the information I could possibly need literally at the tips of my fingers, none of it made sense. I sat back in my recliner totally bathed in perspiration and quivery from head to toe, tossed the manual aside and finally took some time to actually look out the stinkin' window.

Wowsers. It was awesome. By this time the earth's shadow had moved about halfway across the face of the moon. I looked over to my computer and was awed by the fabulous images that were on NASA's website. I watched transfixed as the eclipse progressed. Just as the moon was completely eclipsed and I could just begin to see the orange-red hue begin, suddenly everything disappeared from the sky.

What the heck?! Ah. The bank of clouds had returned, I discovered. At the worst possible moment. I pulled my laptop closer and noticed with dismay that the images had disappeared from their website as well! Drat. "We're having problems with our feed," announced a woman online. A series of still images began to appear instead of live footage. But what stunning images they were:

Image found here

I reasoned that I was fortunate to have seen any of the eclipse at all, and so I waited to see if the clouds would part once again. No such luck. But at least the series of pictures from NASA continued to roll by, each more beautiful than the next.

A light breeze drifted through the screen-less window. I took a deep breath of the cool night air, looked up into the dark starless sky and suddenly felt.........very, very small in comparison to the cosmos.

Were you able to see the blood moon?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oh wow. Love your commentary. On most anything. Please keep with it!