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Lunar Madness

December 11, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

[Dan Grayson, Tokyo, December 10, 2011]

Those of us on the west coast enjoyed a total lunar eclipse just before moonset yesterday morning, the last one until April 2014.

The entire lunar eclipse will be visible in East Asia, Australia, and the far western portion of North America that includes Alaska and Canada’s Yukon and Northwest Territories. The spectacle will last nearly three and a half hours, starting on Saturday at 4:45 a.m. Pacific Time.

Totality—when the full moon will be completely blocked from direct sunlight—will start at 6:05 a.m. PT and last until 6:57 a.m. PT.

We were discussing the eclipse at dinner with friends Friday evening. Would we wake up for it? Would we be able to see it without trees in the way? Jean mentioned that she would be up anyway, as she would be rowing. Plus, her location out on the water would provide unobstructed viewing. I imagined waking up and walking out to a clear area at the edge of the backyard with a good view to the southwest, but when the time came to set the alarm, I decided not to bother. I would either arise naturally or miss it.

At 5:55 a.m., I arose naturally. I looked at the clock, then noticed that the early morning moonlight that a full moon usually brings into the bedroom was missing. The eclipse was underway, on schedule, with totality ten minutes away. I couldn’t believe my luck. I got out of bed, got dressed, went down to the garage to get my coat and hat out of the car, got gloves from the closet, opened the backdoor, and headed out for total eclipse viewing.

Something didn’t seem right. I could see a faint glow to the southwest where the full moon must be. I couldn’t see the moon, which of course was the whole point. Then I realized what the problem was. I couldn’t see much else either, because it was cloudy.

Boy did I feel stupid. I completely forgot to look out the window to check for clouds before getting dressed. I could have done that and gone back to sleep.

Or maybe not. It was well before sunrise after all. Because of the darkness, I might not have been able to assess the nature of the cloud cover without going outside.

I went out again about 15 minutes later and then 30 minutes later, in case there was a break in the clouds, but there wasn’t. I had to content myself with my old friend Dan’s posting on Facebook at 5:34 a.m. PT of an eclipse photo he took from Tokyo. (See above.)

I’ll try again in a couple of years.

Categories: Life, Stupidity
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