Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Lunar eclipse

I've spent the evening running in and out checking on the progress of the lunar eclipse. It was too cold to sit outside and watch but we manged to see it totally eclipsed and several stages before and after. An eclipse is always magical. You start out with a bright moonlit night and it gets darker and darker and somehow quieter and quieter. Any night birds seem to stay quiet. I did hear a barred owl call once and a very few frogs now and again.

When I was a kid growing up near Tacoma, Washington, my father was president of the local amateur astronomers club for years. We were often dragged outside in any weather to see an eclipse, the northern lights, and I particularly remember Sputnik going over (that does date me, doesn't it). I did the same for my kids, getting them up in the middle of the night to go outside and see a comet or the northern lights. The club also used to have star parties up at Mt. Rainier where we could get away from the light pollution of the city. Each member would set up a telescope looking at something different and we would wander around checking out Jupiter's moons, various nebulae, the rings of Saturn. We had a telescope at home and often looked at interesting objects in space. We now have a small telescope that my Dad gave me a couple of years before he died and we often set it up to see comets, planets, and other celestial objects.

1 comment:

  1. Lucky you, getting to see the eclipse! I should have packed the kids up and gone off to find a good spot to watch it. But there was some cloud cover here, and I wasn't sure we'd be able to see it even with an eastern exposure (we have a western view from our house here on Hollywood Hill). Hopefully we'll catch the next one in 2010. :-)