The night sky puts on a show

A year ago, Michelle and I were getting excited. The finishing touches were being put on the house, the Mighty P had given its final blessings and Mark, Kim and Rob were on board to come up and help move us south.

We were looking forward to so many things. Watching whales and seeing eagles, beach walks and crashing waves. Sunsets and wind storms. Tide pools and light houses. Good wine and good food, and just flat being together at the coast.

One thing I hadn’t thought about though, was the night sky…

Everyone knows about pollution. There is air pollutions, water pollution, and contaminated land. People are truly not kind to the planet.

Well there is another pollution that many might not know about. Light pollution. It doesn’t harm the environment, well, not in a physical way, but all the lights in a city flat drown out the stars. I remember an old song by CW McCall (of Convoy fame) where he is in the deep woods with a guy from the city. The city guy is in the wilderness, far away from any artificial light, looking up and thinks he is seeing smog. Turns out he is seeing the Milky Way. He had no idea how the Milky Way, our galaxy, looked. That is light pollution.

Want a more current example? Ever seen this Oreo commercial? Yep light pollution…

 

But here on the coast, in a small town, especially in my back yard, its dark as can be! I can go outside and see more stars there than I ever could in Puget Sound. I had no idea how much more I would see. And being the science geek I am… I love it! Have ever seen the International Space Station fly over.

This spring or summer I am going to head up toward the water fall way back in the woods and wait for dark, then it will be truly a star show!

But, last night, as most of us know, there was a lunar eclipse. Add to it, it was a super wolf blood moon (or some such thing!) I was excited as soon as I heard it was coming.

Sadly though, the weather didn’t look to be cooperating. We were cloudy and rainy through most of the morning. In the afternoon, the rain stopped, but the clouds hung on. If you read the post from last night, you will know the beach walk was pretty, and the clouds seemed to be thinning.

But I wasn’t holding  out much hope of a moon show.

Later on, I was sitting and working on yesterday’s post, when I looked outside and saw this.

The moon was saying hello as it was rising! But as you can see the clouds were still there.

I kept writing and looking out the window and there seemed to be a battle going on. The clouds and the moon were fighting for dominance.

Just when I thought it would bust through, the clouds closed the gap and the moon was gone. In fact last night I wrote that sadly I was going to get skunked by the clouds.

When I finished my post, I walked out and thought “Game over” The clouds had gotten so thick that I couldn’t even see the glow of the moon through the clouds. I think I was dealing with a thick head MUCH more than thick clouds. It dawned on me later that maybe it was the fact the eclipse itself was dimming the moon, instead of the clouds, that kept me from seeing the glow.

But, with the chance of seeing it gone, I decided to sit and read. About 15 minutes later, I glanced outside and saw some stars. I went back to reading for a bit when it hit me! “STARS!!!! If there are stars!!!”

Sure as hell, I walked outside and the super moon won the battle or the weather gods smiled, or this coast kid was just damn lucky, but on the field of stars was the blood-red moon! This was the best picture I could get, and it does NOT do it justice!

I just stood out on the back deck and looked at it. My neck started to hurt, and I kept looking at it. I started getting cold, but I wouldn’t go in, it was just captivating. I can explain, and have to science classes, how a lunar eclipse occurs, but that does not make it any less meaningful to see. I seemed like it was looking back at me.

I can honestly see why ancient Peoples would come up with gods to explain how this occurred. They would have no warning, and suddenly the moon all but disappeared. I am sure many a shaman and priest earned respect by bringing the moon back!

I am honestly a very lucky person to have seen this. I am looking forward to future celestial events. Imagine how cool it will be if a comet (Like Hale-Bopp in the mid 90s) becomes visible!!!

But, as I pointed out early on, here the night sky does NOT need an event to garner notice. On any given clear night, you can look up and just admire what see.

Want an example? I decided to stop on the way back from Starbucks this morning for this.

Day or night, the coast can make you very happy. Trust me, it makes us happy every day!

2 thoughts on “The night sky puts on a show

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