Eclipse is now total, under starry skies
From the WeatherDeck in Cockeysville, it looks like Baltimoreans must be getting a great view of tonight's total eclipse of the moon. Skies are cold and clear and full of stars.
UPDATE: Did you miss the eclipse? There's a time-lapse video of the whole thing, in just 2 minutes, here: http://ht.ly/3sz5J
From where I sit, the moon stands just above the winter bones of an old oak. Below, to the left, is the constallation Orion, with its well-recognized belt of three stars. Below the belt is the pale smudge of the Orion nebula, a nursery of young stars. Over my right shoulder is the Big Dipper.
I woke with a start, and immediately feared I'd slept through the eclipse. Checked the clock radio and was relieved to see it was 1:59 a.m. I'd set my phone alarm for 2 a.m. Guess I didn't need it.
Checked the sky from the deck in my PJs, saw that it was clear and that the eclipse was well underway, so I threw on some warm clothes, grabbed the 10x50 binoculars from the closet and headed outdoors.
Already more than half the moon was in shadow. The sunlit half was very bright, the shadowed half glowing in a dull ochre color. As I watched, the curved shadow of the Earth, slid slowly across the moon's craters and maria. Now the eclipse is total.
I'm always struck by how three-dimensional the eclipsed moon looks, not the flat white disk of most full moons. A beautiful night. Hope you got the kids up to watch. My grown daughter is texting me as she watches through her skylight. This stuff still gets her going, 20 years after I first got her and her little brother up to watch a lunar eclipse in Baltimore.
"I will never forget that night," she said. "I remember ... being disappointed that it didn't disappear entirely. Like it was lazy and didn't finish."
Please share your impressions. Tell us who's with you and how everyone is reacting. And if you're taking pictures, email a copy to me and I'll post it.
It's a night to remember.
(PHOTO: Top: Alin Tolea, 1.3s at ISO 100, using a Canon 5D MKII through a homemade 80 mm achromatic refractor telescope. Bottom: Mike Himowitz, "with my little Canon.")