Tuesday, December 21, 2010

me and my moon shadow

New Agers!  Listen up!

Pull out your crystals.  Deck your halls with boughs of sage.  And don your Druid apparel.

The early morning of 21 December is your time to revel.

For the first time in 372 years, a total lunar eclipse and the winter solstice occur on the same night.  It would be a trifecta if Linda Evans and Yanni were to get married.

For the rest of us who are less crystal-oriented, it is still a big event. 

Full lunar eclipses are rare.  But one of the best treats for North Americans is that we get the full show.  Assuming weather permits.  And that is why we Mexicans (in our portion of North America) may trump some of you up north who are struggling with snow and rain.

The last time a lunar eclipse happened on the winter solstice, the puritans were kicking Anne Hutchinson out of Massachusetts Bay Colony, Charles I was heading down a road where his claim to rule by divine right was about to leave him nowhere to hang a crown, and a group of shipwrecked English sailors set up a colony in Belize -- creating a language anomaly in Central America.

Here are the details of this morning's eclipse.  (For those of you who will not read this until the show is over, I am certain television will show you something later today.)

As the earth revolves around the sun, and the moon revolves around the earth, there are times when the earth will get between the sun and the moon -- casting a shadow on the moon's surface.  In the same way hammy divas try to upstage their co-stars.

That is what will happen this morning.

Around midnight, a slight shading will occur on the moon's surface.  About 33 minutes later, the earth's shadow will start appearing from the moon's left.  And then it will be light's out around 1:41 a.m. CT.

Assuming that old tradition is not correct (you know, the one about some demon eating the moon), the shadow will start moving away within 70 minutes.

To get a clear view of this rare morning, I am going to be up on the roof of the house.

Of course, I will need to take a gallon of OFF with me to fight off the flying, biting critters.

It will be interesting to hear what each of you were able to see where you are.


Dan in NC said...

Just walked outside to have a peek at natures wonder, teeth started to chatter, fingernails and lips turned blue, and did a hood slide back into the heated bed. Seen it! It was nice, but the bed's NICER!
Dan in NC
(Where asstronomy and frozen arses don't mix!)

Anonymous said...

So, what do those of us in Europe do? Wait?


Barb said...

It's just before 1am here in Alberta. The red is overtaking the moon. I'd say it's close to half covered. What an amazing sight.

I wish I could watch the whole thing but tomorrow I must participate in that evil necessity which funds my life, aka work.

Felipe said...

We Mexicans?? Go gaze in the mirror, white boy. Or your visa.

On to the matter at hand: Lunar eclipses have never excited me. You can do the same thing with a flashlight and a piece of paper.

MD in Texas said...

My 17 year old daughter sent me a text message at 1 a.m. to WAKE UP and go outside to see the eclipse....so I did! Thankfully it was a warm night in Dallas since I was in my pajamas! Glad I followed her instructions and went out to observe it though. It was wonderful!

Islagringo said...

When I took the dog out at 12:30am, I glanced up at the moon. Clear, cloudless sky. Bright neon white moon glowing down. Still, I decided sleep was more important at my age and just went to bed.

Darrel said...

Here in Oregon the eclipse was blocked by something. I’m not sure if was my pillow or the back of my eyelids.

Steve Cotton said...

Dan -- One of the advantages of living in the tropics is sitting out at night watching the sky. If it makes you feel any better, I had to wear my jacket. It was a bit chilly.

Horst -- If you have the patience. Or you could have a student riot demanding your own eclipse.

Barb -- And that is another good reason why being retired in Mexico is just fine with me.

Felipe -- Literary license, sir. I realize that is anathema to you as a journalist. But I use the adjective merely to designate where I live. "Expatriate in Mexico" being far too cumbersome -- at least, for now. I would have made the cultural chameleon argument. You know, the one that goes something like: "Wherever I live, I become part of the people." And I am willing to nominate anyone who says that for the body part they have become.

As for your flaslihght and paper suggestion, I see the connection. In the same way that Bach can be played on a kazoo.

MD -- I am coming down with one of those Mexican colds. (Sorry, Felipe. A cold I contracted while living in Mexico.) But it was well worth the hacking to watch the eclipse. I am amazed at each one I see.

Islagringo -- What would the Mayas have done? Does that dog have a name?

Darrel -- Ah. The eclipse was eclipsed. I suspect there may have been a bit of clooud cover as well. Just guessing.

NWexican said...

I saw rain and then more rain.

Jonna said...

We too went out on the roof, after first going out in the street to verify that it was indeed happening. I tried to get my tripod to work but leaving it alone for a couple of years has unfortunately not been good for it. I took a couple pics anyway, handheld, but haven't bothered to look at them. I'm pretty sure they are not well focused.

It was beautiful, the sky was clear, the air was a chilly 65F but I had my sweats and my Uggs to keep me warm.

Anonymous said...

It was perfect from our roof in Guanajuato. Amazing, really.

Anonymous said...

What's with Felipe's comment?!?!
In his blog he continually refers to himself as Mexican, just because he married one.
Sound like a "pot" and "kettle" issue!

Marilyn (lived at Red Tree Inn last 2 winters)

Steve Cotton said...

NWexican -- Another good reason for me to be here.

Jonna -- It was probably around 70 here. But it still felt chilly. I pulled out my leather jacket -- the one I thought I would never need again.

Wyntopia -- I bet it was a great view up on your hillide. What I liked best is that the moon was so high in the sky. Almost in center stage.

Marilyn -- Felipe has a point. He is a Mexican citizen. But that voter ID card didn't make him any browner -- and I guess that really is your point.

Felipe said...

You tell her, Steve! Not only am I a bona fide Mexican with a Mexican passport, I vote in Mexican elections too. And all Mexicans are not of the well-tanned variety. Statistically, about 10 percent of us are "white." I fall into that category. Plus, I speak Spanish all day long. And my cars have Mexican plates, and my driver's license is Mexican, and so are my bank accounts and my lovely wife and my truckload of Mexican relatives. So there. I'm the real deal.

If Marilyn read my blog on a regular basis, and one can certainly do worse with one's time, she would know that. Tsk, tsk.

Steve Cotton said...

Felipe -- Fair is fair. You did write: "Go gaze in the mirror, white boy." And that was Marilyn's point. The face looking back at each of us would be just as white. All of those other attributes you mentioned make you a Mexican through and through. Except for the fact that you cannot be elected king -- or any lesser office -- in Mexico.

Felipe said...

Well, almost all of us are brown boys, Steve. However, I don't think that was Marilyn's point at all. I think she simply did not know I am a Mexican.

Of course, I am also a Gringo, a split personality.

Which is what happens to the moon during an eclipse. Its personality gets split. I feel its pain.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Steve, but I can't resist.

So Felipe, can you become a Mexican with a flashlight and a piece of paper? Or perhaps the flashlight isn't required.


Here in Boston, a snowstorm eclipsed the eclipse, so we were literally left in the dark.

Glad you are back in Mexico. Don't let anyone else try to define you. If you think you're Mexican now, well, go with it.


Kim G
Boston, MA
Where we are dying to be Mexican.

Steve Cotton said...

Kim -- Welcome back to commenter's row. I have missed your insights. Keep them rolling. Had I listened to your advice on selling my house, I would now have very few connections left to Oregon.

Barb said...

"Barb -- And that is another good reason why being retired in Mexico is just fine with me."

Four more years and we'll be there with you. Can't wait. :-)

1st Mate said...

Where we are, the eclipse was directly overhead. We would run out periodically and stare at it for a while as it proceeded. Now we both have cricks in our necks, but I'm glad we stayed awake for it. Note to self: get a lounge chair for the next one.

Steve Cotton said...

Barb -- Keep that countdown clicking. It is worth it.

1st Mate -- I had something of the same problem. I resolved it by slipping into the hammock on the roof. I keep forgetting it is up there. I would sleep in it -- if not for the blasted mosquitoes.