Camera. Coffee. Parka.
It’s just past 5 a.m. here in Denver, and I am ready for the show.
In approximately 45 minutes, the moon now shining brilliantly in my western sky will give way to the edges of Earth’s shadow and the lunar eclipse will begin. Miss this one and you’ll have to wait three years for the next viewing, unless you intend to travel to other points on the globe and catch it there. Having grabbed my high-B in Geometry at SCHS and run gratefully, I’m not the one to explain the where’s and how’s of this moondance, but this is good: http://www.mreclipse.com/Special/LEprimer.html
What has intrigued me this year is the number of ways this natural phenomenon is translated, depending upon the perspective of the viewer.
When our lunar eclipse occurred in 2010 on the Winter Solstice, there were those who predicted the end of the world. Some Biblical scholars see in the red phase of the eclipse a harkening back to the Old Testament scripture of the “blood moon” and a judgment prophecy fulfilled. Others steeped in lunar lore say an eclipse exposes a truth, a surprise, a reality previously hidden in the shadows that–now in the light–cannot be ignored.
I have my own thoughts. And I have an old poem, newly discovered (perfect timing, right?!) that speaks to the calm of the natural order in contrast to our human struggles. That should keep me busy for the day.
AT 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.
How shall I link such sun-cast symmetry
With the torn troubled form I know as thine,
That profile, placid as a brow divine,
With continents of moil and misery?
And can immense Mortality but throw
So small a shade, and Heaven’s high human scheme
Be hemmed within the coasts yon arc implies?
Is such the stellar gauge of earthly show,
Nation at war with nation, brains that teem,
Heroes, and women fairer than the skies?
By Thomas Hardy (1840-1928)
Photo: from National Geographic by Akira Fujii, Sky & Telescope