It was overcast and rainy for much of the day yesterday. Didn’t look good for eclipse viewing that evening/next morning. When we went to bed around 11:30 pm it was raining. The total lunar eclipse was to start at 2:51 am. I checked satellite imagery which revealed a lot of clouds, and then I set my alarm for 2:40 am. But I never heard the alarm.
I got up at 2:00, the way you do when you anticipate something like getting up to catch a flight or getting up to see… a lunar eclipse! I padded out to the perch and peered out our picture windows – the moon! The blanket of clouds that pissed on us all night had moved on and instead we had mostly clear skies with a few menacing blobs of cloud here and there. I went back to bed to try and get some more sleep.
But by 2:30 I got my camera gear together and threw on my trusted capilene and fleece and set myself up outside. Jeremy had an exhausting day before, so he asked me to wake him when it was approaching totality. Sure thing.
The moon was bright and big and fat and beautiful. I love it. I love the night sky and all of those brilliant bodies doing their orbital dynamics dances around us. My lens wasn’t good enough for getting really nice sharp images of the moon as a giant grapefruit, but it was good enough for playing around and getting some detail and capturing this most lovely phenomenon.
When I started, I could see maybe a couple dozen stars glimmering in the night. Lots of turbulence aloft. When the eclipse started, it was ever so subtle and I thought it would take forever to reach totality (it took an hour). But as I snapped away, I noticed that more and more stars began to pop out. Wisps of clouds flirted past the moon, but that was okay – I wasn’t shooting a basketball game… As the moon began to resemble a sliver, I went inside from the deck and woke Jeremy.
We sat and watched the Earth’s umbra slowly engulf the moon. In it’s wake was a reddish, sometimes orangish moon. Freaking awesome. I had never seen a total lunar eclipse before. Neither had Jeremy. Meanwhile, we spotted about a dozen shooting stars during our viewing. The Milky Way emerged in the darkness and it just felt amazing. The winds began to pick up and more clouds ushered toward our piece of sky from the Continental Divide. I asked Jeremy if there was a disconnect between what he studies – astrophysics – and what he sees standing there on the deck. I don’t remember his answer because I was feeling really tired.
It started to get cold, dropping into the lower 40s and gusting winds to boot. Jeremy retired to the couch inside and eventually had to turn in so he would be lucid at work in a few hours. I stayed. I wanted, if I could, to catch the unveiling too. At 5:23 am, the moon was to come out of totality and at 5:22 am (I kid you not), an enormous bank of clouds that stretched from James Peak across to Wyoming marched across the sky and in front of the moon. I felt some sadness and some relief. Tired, cold, and tired some more, I packed up my equipment and went to bed.
Here is what I managed to capture for the 2.5 hours I was out there:
my first total lunar eclipse – spectacular