For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move. ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

Friday, 20 March 2015

Moon Shadow

Astronomy on the cheap.

Between 8.30 and 10.30 today the moon passed before the sun to produce a near-total solar eclipse. It was a cloudless morning here in the English Midlands, with the sun too bright to look at. Gradually the temperature dropped and the sky darkened. Shadows lengthened and colours veered towards the red end of the spectrum. At around 9.30 — the climax of the eclipse — it became very still and the atmosphere quite eerie. Birds perched in the trees, perhaps fooled into thinking that night was approaching. Despite the oppressive moon shadow, it still remained fairly light. It had been impossible to buy any special safety glasses, so we tried the colander viewing technique. I'm not sure this was completely successful, but at least our retinas stayed intact. As the sun strengthened and the moon stole away, the birds started singing again — including a robin on our car roof.

It's also the spring equinox, so the hours of light and dark are equal. And there's a perigee new moon, or supermoon, which occurs when a new moon coincides orbitally with its nearest point to earth. This conjunction of spring equinox, supermoon and solar eclipse is most unusual, and I feel pleased to have witnessed such a rare cosmic event.

8 comments:

The Weaver of Grass said...

I like that idea of the cosmic coincidence Robert. First day of Spring tomorrow - yippee

Amanda Summer said...

Lucky you! Love the kitchen astronomy kit.

The Solitary Walker said...

It still feels pretty cold, Pat — though our cherry tree is in blossom and we have frogspawn in the pond.

The Solitary Walker said...

Amanda :) Improvisation is the name of the game. One moment it (the colander) was draining pasta, the next it was documenting the celestial event of the century.

Ruth said...

So cool and interesting that everything became still.

The Solitary Walker said...

'At the still point of the turning world.'

am said...

Love the photo! Sweet to have a near total eclipse right where you live. You got me looking for an eclipse calendar online. There will be a near total eclipse here in August of 2017, which gives Bellingham a good chance at being able to see the sun that day.

dritanje said...

Your colander worked really well! I was lucky here too, the sky was clear. I rigged up a viewer with 2 pieces of card, one with a pinhole. It caught the reflection and the growing shadow, and I did take a photo of the light/shadow. Pretty much the same as yours, only without the jazzy multiple effect!