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The Sciences

Didja see the eclipse?

Bad AstronomyBy Phil PlaitDecember 22, 2010 12:59 AM

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I hope a lot of my readers were fortunate enough to have clear weather last night for the eclipse. I noticed that the words cloud and cloudy were trending on Twitter, and given how many people I saw complaining there, the skies were overcast for a whole lot of people.

eclipse_me-300x211.jpg

We had thin clouds here for the beginning of the event, but by the time the Moon plunged into the deepest part of the Earth's shadow, the skies had cleared magnificently. The Moon turned an eerie dark orange-brown, and the stars came out. I took a lot of pictures, and the one here was when the Moon was well into the Earth's shadow (click all these pictures to enlunanate). It may not look like much, but I took it by holding my phone camera up to my binoculars! So it's wasn't exactly fancy and high-tech. The point being, something like this is easy and fun, and not too hard to capture on camera. Of course, people with better equipment (and who were better prepared!) took even more amazing shots. This video was made using individual pictures taken telescopically:

Winter Solstice Lunar Eclipse from William Castleman on Vimeo.

Wow. Debussy was a good choice for music, to (and he didn't go with the obvious "Clair de Lune"). BABloggee Mike Hillard sent me this wonderful sequence

of the Moon moving through the Earth's shadow:

eclipse_mikehillard.jpg

Actually, there were so many pictures flying around I simply can't show them all. Happily, others have collected lots of 'em:

Last night I was out on the driveway with my daughter and two of her friends. They watched the slowly eclipsing Moon while chatting about school and life and the stuff kids usually talk about. But they were also into the whole thing, wanting to stay until the Moon was completely immersed in shadow, even though it was about 1:00 a.m. before that happened! As I said, I had my binoculars set up, and took a bunch of pictures by holding my phone camera up to the eyepiece. I got a few that weren't too bad, so I posted them on Twitter. The response was overwhelming! There were hundreds of people asking questions, talking about the pictures, posting their own, and generally enjoying this relatively rare event together. It was amazing, and well worth staying up late and freezing my tuchus off. Taking pictures and seeing them is fun, but truly it's better to be there. I know, a lot of you were clouded out, but if you ever get a chance to share some future astronomical event -- an eclipse, a meteor shower, or just sitting out under the stars -- take it.

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