28 August 2007


Got up at about 0200 this morning and watched the partial phase of the lunar eclipse for a few minutes. The full moon's light was still very bright even with a chunk taken out of it. It was clear and cool and the moon was high in the southwest. Went back to bed and checked again at about 0300, near the start of totality. The sky was quite dark, the light of the full moon was now gone. The moon's face was distinctly rusty-red, but it was surprisingly bright. I could see all the major features easily. The Mare Tranquilitatis (which I believe is Lunar East) was on the lower right-hand edge of the disk, with its 'legs' pointed down. That is from my observer's perspective. I could not see the much smaller Mare Crisium, but I must admit that in the wee hours my eyesight--lousy to start with--isn't all that keen. Binoculars made the red color fade, the moon exhibiting a blue-gray cast when I looked through my Nikon 9 x 25 Travelite V pair. I wonder if the small exit pupil (25/9 = 2.77) was responsible for that. So, I head to work today a little bleary-eyed, but it was worth it. Not too often do we get such an easy-to-view lunar eclipse--the furthest I traveled was my patio! Later in the morning, 0500, I got up for good and had a nice look at Orion, Taurus and Gemini (with Mars lurking near Aldebaran) in the southeast. The best things in life are indeed free.

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