On Dewees, where there is little light pollution, there is often an incredible celestial view. But astronomical events are hard to plan for. Meteor showers, eclipses, etc. can all be incredible, but often the clouds get in the way, or the visibility is poor for some other reason. This week, however, was perfect. A lunar eclipse was predicted from 4:17 am. to 7:30, with the most change observable between 5:45 and 6:30. This, happily, is when we get up to get ready for the school ferry, so we were all able to catch glimpses of it. I did get up at about 5:00, and set the camera on a tripod so I could watch.
The temperature was perfect, the night sky alight with stars, punctuated by the regular rhythm of the Sullivan’s island lighthouse sending its double beamed signal out across the water. A pair of raccoons crept stealthily up and down the branches of the live oak off the porch, occasionally chirping to one another. Great Horned Owls hooted off in the distance. There was even a slight breeze: enough to keep the mosquitos and no-see-ems out of our faces. An occasional splash could be heard in the marsh: fish jumping or tailing after bait; alligators slipping into the water. And the moon, slipping into darker and darker shades of red, greeting the school kids as they boarded the ferry.
Thomas Hardy wrote a sonnet about a lunar eclipse:
Thy shadow, Earth, from Pole to Central Sea,
Now steals along upon the Moon’s meek shine
In even monochrome and curving line
Of imperturbable serenity.
At Space.com, there is an explanation of how this eclipse fits in with a series of lunar eclipses over the next year.
This total eclipse is part of a so-called tetrad of lunar eclipses set to take place from 2014 to 2015. The first total eclipse in the tetrad took place in April 2014, and the next eclipse will occur in April 2015 with the last in the tetrad set for Sept. 2015.
Want to plan your Dewees experience around an eclipse? Check this schedule.