Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Mother Nature was such a tease last night. I’ve been a moon watcher for a long time. Having the eclipse fall on the winter solstice was special. But I knew my odds of actually seeing it were poor. Most of the country is under clouds and Roseburg was no exception. I took my first look at 7:30 PM – three hours before the start. Much to my surprise thin clouds were hurrying overhead and there shone the moon! … and at 8PM and at 9PM. But when I went out at 10PM my moon had disappeared. Nada! Gone! Darn. A soft murky cloud hung over town and reflected city lights back to me.
But the tease was just playing with me. When start time arrived, 10:33 PM, the thin clouds were back and soon the darkness started creeping over the face of the moon! My husband joined me and we set up a camera.
Ever so slowly the shadow covered more and more. When the moon shines bright it outshines the nearby stars, but as more and more of the moon was covered by earth’s shadow, the stars started peeking through the thin veil of clouds.
When the moon was two thirds covered the dark portion began to emerge. Almost wishful thinking at first, but as more and more moon slipped into darkness, the moon kept its roundness. The dark portion took on solid form, and held a promise of things to come.
Full coverage was scheduled for 11:40 PM. When the moon’s brightness had slimmed to just a thin crescent, color began to emerge. It is almost magical how gradually the dark shadow takes on more and more redness ….. but my color was running a race with the clouds. The clouds were thickening again. Just when the crimson globe should emerge unhampered by any sunlight, the lights softly went out. No moon, no stars. Drizzle was falling on us. Ah well, at least we saw the shadow’s creep.
Mother Nature was still teasing me. I went inside to finish my last pencil sketch and then went outside for another look. There it was. A glowing reddish ball, soften by just a bit of haze. It seemed like something out of a fairy princess book. The warmth of those mysterious colors seemed to bring the moon closer to earth. I went to bed for awhile. When I last looked the sky sparkled clear. The full shadow still covered the moon, just barely. One edge had brightened. I knew that in minutes a peek of light would start erasing the color. I went back to bed savoring the reds, oranges, crimsons and browns.