Hawaii got a rare celestial treat Saturday when the moon turned a dark, rustic red color. Starting at about 4 a.m., the Earth’s shadow completely blocked the moon in a total lunar eclipse.Dec. 10, 2011 lunar eclipse from Honolulu, Hawaii.
The red color came from some indirect sunlight that passed through the Earth’s atmosphere. Every color except for red gets absorbed into the atmosphere, making the moon look similar to a vibrant sunrise or sunset.
Lunar eclipses are actually more common than their solar counterparts, but a full lunar eclipse is rarely viewable from Hawaii.
Luckily, the clouds cleared up just in time for the show, which I was actually able to drag myself out of bed to watch. Correction: my nerdy boyfriend pestered me out of bed and dragged me outside to watch. It was pretty much going to be my first celestial anything. I’ve never seen a shooting star nor an eclipse of any caliber in my life! So with mugs of hot cocoa in hand and the pure silence of the night, my boyfriend, dog and I gazed in amazement at the crimson moon that seemingly phased back to its usual silvery gray with every sway of the leaves. I wondered if the universe had been as quiet as it was on Earth at those moments, as two huge masses moved in sync to create an extra terrestrial phenomenon.
Like many others around the world, we set up our camera and tripod to get some sequential lunar photos. To be expected, within a few minutes of the eclipse, videos were instantly posted to the web. Now that’s almost as amazing as the eclipse itself! Another example of technology at its greatest and working at the speed of light.
I’ve read that some cultures believe an eclipse to be a bad omen. Chinese say it’s when a dragon eats the moon. For me, the phenomenon turned out to be quite a refreshing and positive one. The whole experience was just so peaceful and came at a time in my life when I feel like everything’s in its place–like a punctuation mark from the heavens to end a sentence in my life.
The next total lunar eclipse will be in 2014. Who knows where we’ll be or what we’ll be doing. I think it’s actually pretty exciting not to know where you’ll be in life – it keeps things fresh. Hopefully, you’ll be lucky enough to be in Hawaii for the eclipse. Be sure to get away from the city lights and find a secluded place, like at the top of Round Top, Mauna Kea or Haleakala. May your stars align 🙂
Photo Credit: Noa Myers