Saturday, December 10, 2011

Eclipsed Morning

I'm not a superstitious gardener, nor a howling Druid worshiping every single tree in my garden, but I do try to take note of celestial happenings when they occur, lest the gods take displeasure that I'm ignoring their handiwork.  I was therefore pleased when CNN warned me this morning that a lunar eclipse was underway.  CNN, after all, has to be good for something besides keeping me up on Kim Kardashian's short-lived marriage and the actions of the latest nutball in the sports world.  At 7:23 a.m. this morning I was able to grab this shot of a partial eclipse just before the moon dropped below my prairie horizon:

A lunar eclipse occurs twice a year during a Full Moon when the Moon is "behind" the Earth and the Sun in "front" resulting in the passing of the Earth's shadow over the Moon.   In fact, I snapped the picture above at a special time called "selenehelion," which occurs when both the Sun and the eclipsed Moon can be observed at the same time, just at sunrise or sunset.  In my case, the Sun was just cresting the horizon over my right shoulder.  Mr. Moon is looking a little reddish because the sunlight reaching it is being scattered by a long passage through a long and dense layer of Earth's atmosphere.  While again, I'm not superstitious, lunar eclipses have played a part in a number of historical events and were quite frightening to prehistorical cultures.  No wonder that some cultures cover their wells or eating utensils to prevent contamination by the blood-colored Moon during a lunar eclipse.   Christopher Columbus is said to have intimidated the natives of Jamaica into provisioning his ships by predicting a lunar eclipse on February 29, 1504.  Hey, his superior knowledge may have been just another exploitation of a less-developed culture, but at least all that navigational expertise was good for something.

I don't know what part, if any, today's lunar eclipse played in my garden's ecology, but I'm not holding my breath.  Maybe, next year, I'll think the red roses have taken a deeper crimson hue and I'll think back to today.  But I doubt it.

1 comment:

  1. Very cool pic, Professor. I had heard it was coming but there was no way I'd be up at that hour - 6:23 here. Thanks for sharing it and letting me sleep.


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