Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Chasing Moon Shadows

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 crappy little photos like mine. Julie is a photographic artist and you don't want to miss her's of the eclipse — STUNNING, BRILLIANT, and so  much more! The other thing that is very cool, is that while I wrote about our total eclipse during the Winter Solstice, it's SUMMER in Australia, so the eclipse in Julie's part of our world happened during Summer Solstice. How cool is that?  Gosh, I love blogging!

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!

19 Thoughtful Comments:

Jane said...

At 2:40am, I just completed another painting...and went outside to watch the show. It was a bit nippy...in my bare feet. But the sight was amazing!
Jane (AG)

Kaybe said...

Remember watching the lunar eclipse on IRB behind Thai Pan Alley. Starbuck's, Pad Thai, & Reese's cups. The drunk guys just didn't get it.

The Decorative Dreamer said...

Very cool! I was sleeping! The moon was so nice and bright when I went to bed too, but I just could not stay awake. Your photos are great! I may share this video on facebook, it's fantastic. Thanks for your email address, I will email you later when I collect my thoughts on what I wanted to ask you about. It's no biggie, it's just I've gotten back into holiday mode again for now. LOL! Thanks for sharing this wonderful sight. I loved your summary of thoughts on the eclipse and the winter solistice, Dec.21st, being a sign. I certainly hope so! :))

Julie@beingRUBY said...

Oh Dear Rhonda
Your words are so poetic... and are a perfect summary of what an eclipse can mean for us!!! I too hope this is a good omen for us... a chance for a new year.. filled with happiness!!! good health and good fortune!!! You may be just as moon mad as me!! hahaha

Sadly Summer Solstice means our is on it's way out.. but knowing an aussie summer.. it should linger a while yet.. but i understand your joy.. of knowing.. the shortest day of the year has been had.. and you are on the upswing!!! Wishing us all upswing!!!

Thanks for being such a great blogging friend... I hope you and yours have a wonderful christmas.. filled with joy and happiness and may 2011 bring your best year yet!!! [mine too!! haha]...

Take care dear Rhonda.. and thanks for all your kindness.. ciao xxx Julie

Anonymous said...

Wonderful post...entertaining and informative...and you got great shots of the moon! Unfortunately, it was too cloudy in my corner of the world to see anything, so I'm delighted to read your account of it...:)


Lillian Robinson said...

I missed it. It was cloudy here and I needed my sleep since the youngest granddaughter was going to get me up early!

Thanks to you and a few others, I didn't miss a thing!

Here's wishing that 2011 is a delightfully joyous year for you!

Lillian Robinson said...

I missed it. It was cloudy here and I needed my sleep since the youngest granddaughter was going to get me up early!

Thanks to you and a few others, I didn't miss a thing!

Here's wishing that 2011 is a delightfully joyous year for you!

Maya @ Completely Coastal said...

Oh, I totally missed that news..., and I'm not in even in bed yet at that time!!

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas, my friend!!!!!!



Also..., come share a coastal post Mo Dec 27th (through Jan 9th)!!! More info here

Loui♥ said...

missed the whole shebang..
was tired, cranky and feeling a rotten cold beginning..
so I went to sleep and had heavenly dreams..
knowing SOMEONE out there would preserve the moment for posterity!!
thanks my friend for all your simply awesomeness!
much love and warm sandy hugs..

RottenMom said...

I am incredibly embarrassed to say that I conked out on the couch and missed the whole dang eclipse. Thanks for the post and the links!

Thank you so very much for your kind comment on my blog, I would so be your Sister Wife! And I would try my best to find you a junonia of your own.

And just because you were so nice to me....it's Suncatcher's Dream.

rjerdee said...

Yep, I couldn't sleep, waiting for the eclipse...I made it out to my garden every hour...got cold feet after five minutes and headed back in for another hour...it was a fun night!

Arabella said...

Thank you for sharing your eclipse shots - it was too cloudy & rainy on the West Coast...couldn't see a thing.

Thank you for the wonderful beachy posts which you provide on a regular basis.

Happy Holidays from Sally Lee by the Sea!

Drawn to The Sea said...

How wonderful that you had a clear view, Rhonda, & photos to show it. We had a heavy cloud cover, but I got a few brief glimpses & for those I'm thankful!

Julie/Ruby's images are divine, aren't they? She's such an artist.

I hope your holidays are peaceful & sweet, that the sun shines on you, & that at least one of your wishes comes true.

Thank you for being a friend ;-)
Happy Holidays!

jmac said...

SB!!! perfecto!! what an awesome post and I should have known that you would have captured it! thanks! I couldn't stay up for it but now.,.,man, oh man...I wish I would have. 470 something yrs?? isn't it?
Like the others, I SO enjoy your writing and ideas....always makes me smile!
Merry Christmas girlfriend....and I do believe 2011 will be the yr that I come to your neck of the woods!!! gotta see that sanibel island!!

CHERI said...

Oh, thanks soooo much for the pics and video. I had wanted to try to view this but I have been in bed for the past week very sick. Thankfully I am on the mend and will still be able to enjoy a good Christmas Day, especially since I haven't seen my grandkids in a week and they'll be here for breakfast and to open gifts. Want to wish you the Merriest of Christmases and I hope your New Year will be blessed with all you need and at least some that you just want:)

Leo said...

Wow - great photos!! Incredible that you were able to see it. I was of course, fast asleep. One of these days I would love to stay up and see one.

The Quintessential Magpie said...

My sweet Rhonda, I am off my sick bed for the night, and I am out visiting... well, maybe not out of doors, but out in terms of up and at em on the blogs. ;-)

This was a fascinating post. You always have such interesting things to report. Loved seeing the pics and the video! :-)

I dropped by to wish you a very Merry Christmas and to let you know that one of the Lord's best gifts to me this year was my friendship with YOU! Love you to pieces and hope that you are having a very Merry Christmas!

Let's get together if I can get out for real!


Sheila :-)

Anonymous said...

Thanks! I did not set my alarm. I'm glad you did!

I saw a sundog, you saw a moon shadow. LOL!

Happy New Year!

Is it snowing there?

Sierra said...

How cool - that was very educational and very lovely! Glad you saw it, how amazing!!

I love the beach and everything that goes with it! I love the waves lapping at my feet. I love the feel of the sand between my toes. I love the roar of the Pacific and the gentle waves of the Gulf of Mexico in Florida. Let's talk about beaches around the world, bonfires, building sandcastles, swaying palm trees, flamingos, clambakes, sunrises and sunsets. If it's tropical, it fits this blog!


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