My husband worked until 10 on the night of the Full Super Blood Moon Total Eclipse. He guided airplanes into our local airport. He needed to make sure they weren’t blinded by the magic happening in the sky.
Almost never does a super moon, total lunar eclipse and crystalline night sky converge in Massachusetts at a reasonable hour for working people to view. But they did on September 27, 2015.
According to USToday.com “The last time this happened was in 1982. The next time this will happen will be 2033.”
Add in the fact that this is a blood moon and you can begin to understand what a special phenomenon it is. And while this may attract the zombie, vampire, werewolf set, unfortunately, or rather fortunately, the title “blood moon” is derived from a much more mundane rationale. “Because a lot of light scatters off the Earth’s atmosphere, the moon will not look completely dark but have a coppery red color — hence the blood moon moniker. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2015/09/25/blood-moon-lunar-eclipse-super-moon-need-to-know/72790162/
Though I’d resigned myself to skip anything more than a precursory viewing over the roof of our condo, I changed my mind after my husband called to remind me and went to downtown Haverhill. My first hope was to capture our mighty fine city with the moon overhead. The moon had different plans. It moseyed straight up and too high to make a connection with our buildings and the city lights did little to aid visibility. Plan B – I headed farther across town to Winnekenni Basin – the calm and lovely water way at the base of our city’s castle’s.
First thing I noticed was that I was not alone. The parking lot was full and I had to park illegally within the parking area. Lots of parents and kids and adults with cameras and telescopes and folding chairs and blankets and snacks for squirmers who later abandoned their strollers and blankets for the swing set. Sometime in the night the scent of hazelnut coffee teased my envious nostrils. I reminded myself this was not a party this was a Mel Torme moment* – aka a once in a life time chance and I intended to document it, even though I couldn’t find my tripod and so would need to rely on my ability to keep perfectly still while shooting the moon.
Initially, I’d say one in every three shots had any value at all to it and as the light from the moon was extinguished bit by bit my small camera couldn’t keep up.
I grabbed both my Nikon D3100 with the Tamron 18-270 lens and my trusty pocketbook camera Canon SX170 IS with the built in 5.0-80.0 mm. The Canon has a 16x optical zoom and a 64X digital zoom. And that believe it or not was what I was able to use best with the auto focus. Tip about shoot the sky without a tripod in the night. It’s dark. And changing lenses and settings was beyond my minuscule abilities without blasting enough light to disturb the rest of the moon-fools.
My ‘decent shot’ to ‘blurred mess’ ratio was shifting in the wrong direction and so I watched for a moment and took in the eclipse by looking at the actual sky rather than through a viewfinder. It was magnificent and I felt the pang associated with wanting to share something with someone special while perched among strangers I couldn’t see except when a kid or dog went missing. A car pulled in and its headlights illuminated a few kids cuddled in blankets and adult couples hunkered down on the front seats or the tailgates of their vehicles. The eclipse was nearly complete and it had been several minutes between workable shots and I was fiddling around trying to will the private plane overhead to pass in front of the moon, learning in the process that my psychic powers are sadly inadequate for that task. I heard someone call out the time “It’s after 10, let’s get home”. And without much whining from tired kids, they were off.
At that moment I realized the eclipse wasn’t over, the moon glass was half full. We had just “hit return” and soon the moon’s brightness would be outshining the stars again. And I knew where and who my special someone was. I envisioned us sharing a cordial or a glass of blood red wine, holding hands, and watching Act 2 together.
I drove back across town, cursing as the person in front of me couldn’t decide among Wendy’s, Heav’nly Donuts, or McDonalds and stopped and pondered at each. I begrudgingly stopped at a light turned yellow because by all my calculations I knew it would be red before I passed. I carefully maneuvered through my complex’s parking lot where shadowy shapes clustered around telescopes and binoculars and soccer mom chairs. I thought I’d find my husband out there, but neighbors said he went straight inside after work.
I did the same
“Jon, Jon, where are you?”
I bolted up the steps…while calculating which cordial to pour and which binoculars to pull out of the basement. And, found him beneath the covers. He’d already turned himself in for the night because his shift had changed and he had to open up the airport tower in the early morning. A fast turn around, as that is called (though he gets home at 10:15 pm and gets up at 6 am), ruled out both alcohol and moon safaris.
Sans husband, I moved to the next special someone – my invalid bunny Bullwinkle. I held him to the window and wished for the moon magic to heal his compromised body. He didn’t squirm too much so I took that as a sign that he was appreciating the glow, but laid him down soon thereafter, he’s not a fan of being held. I changed his bedding, refreshed his water , and poured him some Critical Care gruel. We sat together on the floor for a while, me looking up and out the window stroking his fur mindlessly, him flipping his bowl to get every last drop. And I think we shared a special moment. I’m not sure we’d agree on what is was. His moon miracle was getting extra gruel because some extra spilled into his bowl and in my haste I didn’t try to rectify the problem. Mine was some quiet time at least in the vicinity of my loved ones, counting my blessings.
*To learn about a Mel Torme moment read this post https://brain4rent.wordpress.com/2012/02/21/i-still-hate-jazz-but-mel-torme-changed-my-life/