Up on a hillside to watch the supermoon eclipse!

LDSC_0228They say there hasn’t been a lunar eclipse as good as this one for over twenty years, and that the next one like it is nearly another twenty years away. So how could we NOT go out to check out this eclipse of the supermoon? Especially considering that the day – and the evening – here in Port Alberni were crystal clear. Perfect viewing conditions.

They’re calling it a supermoon because the moon is unusually close to Earth (at the nearest point on its elliptical orbit) – so it looks bigger than usual. Especially when rising. The eclipse actually started before 6:00 pm here, but it hadn’t even risen above the horizon at that point here on the west coast. Dave and Valerie and I (and Xhosa of course) headed out from town just after 6:00 – into the sunset! Dave had a spot in mind, an east-facing slope above some logging roads, where he figured we’d get a good look.

All set up and ready for the show, as the setting sun lights up Mt. Arrowsmith.

All set up and ready for the show, as the setting sun lights up Mt. Arrowsmith.

We are going to Africa for a one-week race next month, so this was the perfect chance to try out some of the freeze-dried meals we are going to have to use there. We set up our chairs, and got Xhosa settled in her bed, which Dave had brought along for her, and her blankie and sweater on (she only looks tough). What a view – facing Mt. Arrowsmith – watching the sky turn pink then inky blue over the mountain as we ate packaged pad thai and packaged chicken and rice – wondering when and where the moon might rise.

I realized that we were missing much of the eclipse out here, and that the moon would be rising totally eclipsed – in other words, very very dark. There was still a dim glow in the sky over Mt. Arrowsmith, and I had a feeling we might miss it – not notice it until it was much higher in the sky. After a time I noticed a dim pink glow off the edge of one of Arrowsmith’s peaks, so I trained my binoculars on it.

First views! That littlepink glow on the horizon, just right of centre, is the risingmoon infull eclipse!

First views! That little pink glow on the horizon, just right of centre, is the rising moon in full eclipse! (Click on the pic to view it bigger – you CAN actually see it).

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The moon, in full eclipse. Very cool how three-dimensional it looked, a big ball hanging up there. (Which is basically what it is, I know – but when it is brightly lit it looks so much more two-dimensional).

And here's the moon around 45 minutes later, higher up now, just starting to come out of total eclipse.

And here’s the moon around 45 minutes later, higher up now, just starting to come out of total eclipse.

And sure enough – it was the moon! Completely risen, its full disc barely discernable, just above the mountain’s edge. I quickly snapped a few pix while it was still close to the horizon – amazing how quickly it actually moves once you are looking at it through a telephoto lens. It was just past 7:30 when it came into view, and we stayed and watched the eclipse right through until the end – nearly 9:30. What a show!

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