What were you doing at around 2:40 this morning EST? Unless you live in another country, chances are you were tucked in bed, fast asleep. That's exactly where I had been just minutes earlier. Now I rarely set a clock to wake up, maybe a couple of times a year, so when the alarm went off on my cell phone (my daughter had to set it for me), I was a bit startled, well, annoyed is probably a better word for how I felt.
Then… I quickly remembered why I was up at such an ungodly hour — the eclipse! Only took me seconds to jump up, throw on a coat, grab my camera and head out the door; my eyes turned towards the sky.
I'm no expert on all that astronomy stuff, but like the waves on the ocean, astrological events fascinate me. I've been out to the desert to watch meteor showers, I know how to safely watch a solar eclipse, I used to love going to the observatory when I lived in California, I enjoy…well, you get the picture.
For those who've been so busy Christmas shopping, maybe you missed the news that early, very early, this morning there was a total lunar eclipse! I love a good eclipse and since our sky yesterday was bright and clear, I knew we were in for a good one. I was so excited, that the lyrics to that song by Bonnie Tyler kept running through my head all day…
♪♪ ♫ ♫ ♪ ♪
Once upon a time I was falling in love
But now I'm only falling apart
There's nothing I can do
A total eclipse of the heart
Once upon a time there was light in my life
But now there's only love in the dark
Nothing I can say
A total eclipse of the heart.
♪♪ ♫ ♫ ♪ ♪
I know, I know…the song is about a sad love affair, not the moon, but for me, standing outside in my jammies with no one else around, eyes skyward, the line "But now there's only love in the dark" took on a whole new meaning.
I watched as Earth's shadow slowly crept over that beautiful full moon and it was breathtaking. The partial eclipse had already begun at 1:33, I was just up and outside for the beginning of the total eclipse, through to where the partial eclipse was ending at about 5:00am.
Events like this always leave me in awe of our universe and makes me realize what a microscopic speck I am. Now a lunar eclipse is not really a rare event, but what made this one special is that here in Florida and other places on EST, it happened on December 21st — the Winter Solstice, otherwise known as the shortest day of the year. By short, I mean it has the least amount of daylight hours of the year. I like to observe this day, because it is the opposite of my favorite day — Summer Solstice, which of course, has the most daylight hours of the year and this old beach gal, loves long summer days at the shore.
Read the path from left to right
I had visited Mr. Eclipse, the resident expert, earlier this week and downloaded two timeline charts, one for EST and one for PST. The one pictured above was for me and the later for my son out in California. Unfortunately for him, they've been having so much rain, that the only thing he was going to see last night was a whole lotta water. Too bad, so sad, BUT this is what I saw…
Lunar Eclipse December 21, 2010 2:47am from Tampa, Florida
Isn't the coppery color gorgeous?
Lunar Eclipse December 21, 2010 4:17am from Tampa, Florida
Actually, in the last photo, about a third of the moon was still in shadow, but the bright light of the full moon came shining through on my camera lens. You can still see just a bit of the shadow on the bottom.
Aren't quite sure about the differences between a solar and a lunar eclipse?
Solar Eclipse: The moon passes directly between the Earth and the Sun, blocking our view.
Lunar Eclipse: Earth passes between the Sun and the Moon, which blocks sunlight from reaching the moon.
Now what song do you think was running through my mind as I watched this shadowy occurrence? Why Moonshadow by Cat Stevens, of course!
♪♪ ♫ ♫ ♪ ♪
I'm being followed by a moon shadow
moon shadow-moon shadow
leaping and hopping on a moon shadow
moon shadow-moon shadow…
♪♪ ♫ ♫ ♪ ♪
My understanding is that Cat Stevens wrote this song about finding hope in any situation where you might find yourself. For many of us, this has been a tough year, I'm one of those, so I'm taking this lunar eclipse as a gift from the universe — to remind myself that I still need see the joy in the world around me — the love I receive from my family and friends, the laughter of a child, the warmth of the sun, the spirit of Christmas, and the friendship you have all shared with me this year. I thank you all, those who leave comments, those who send emails, those who call, and yes, those who just quietly read. This has been a wonderful place for me to come and share with you —the good and a bit of the bad — and it allows me to have a part of my day not be filled with worry about the future. You've made me laugh, you've made me cry — sometimes tears of joy, sometimes tears of sadness for you, you made me smile, you've enlightened me, you shared recipes and crafty goodies, you've shared photos of your world and your families and most of all you've shared yourselves.
Thank you and may 2011 bring you all much joy as you're leaping and hopping on a moon shadow.
Photo Credit: Fred Espenak, Mr. Eclipse October 2004
Note: I haven't been able to get on Fred Espenak's (Mr. Eclipse) all morning to see if he posted a photo from last night, so I'm sharing the one above from 2004, so that you can get a better "feel" of a total lunar eclipse. Hopefully, I can update it later.
UPDATE: I published this post and just had to run over to visit my friend Julie @ Being Ruby. She lives in Australia and always posts photos of the full moon. Now, I don't mean the
Yet another UPDATE: Did you miss the whole thing? Well thanks to a resident of New York, you can see it here in just 1 minute and 29 seconds!