Total lunar eclipse (2008 Feb 21)
Serene. Selene. That best describes this morning's total lunar eclipse. A soft-red Moon setting into False Bay, accompanied by Regulus and Saturn.
Six of us gathered at a lay-by along Faure Marine Drive, south-west of Gordon's Bay, to watch the eclipse. The balmy weather, the smell of the sea-air, the bioluminescent glow in the waves, and the sounds of a whale breaching in the ocean below us, all contributed to a memorable morning.
"I decided to watch the eclipse from Blouberg beachfront as I could not get hold of a key to the Tygerberg Nature Reserve in time and at Signal Hill I would have had to contend with remarks like "check who's escaped from the old age home" by youngsters on dope.
"Long before my alarm clock went off, I was up and away in my 1970 VW Beetle. I firmly believe I am immune to hijackers in this car.
"What I did not expect was a totally deserted Blouberg beachfront. I decided to park opposite a high rise apartment block. At least there were a few lights on and some movement inside. I set up my equipment just in case the apartment occupants or any passer by would mistake me for a has-been hooker. It took me about half an hour to adjust to my lonely surroundings and calm my nerves.
"Cape Town and Table Mountain seemed to have less lights than before but still the light pollution blanketed the city.
"Three container ships, all lit up, lay in the Bay. I focused on the one and I was already picturing my winning shot of an eclipsed Moon dipping behind it.
"Nerves settled, I looked up at the Moon and became oblivious to all else. There it was, still in the soft shadow of Earth. To me the while of waiting in anticipation was just as beautiful as the rest which was to follow.
"I had time to think of all my friends who were watching from different locations and felt totally connected.
"I became aware of the ever so slight darkening of the upper right rim of the Moon. My heart started racing and I looked back at the apartments to see if there was any excitement there as well. All the lights were out. All the blinds were drawn.
"My camera's remote was working overtime. The crash of the waves and the clicks of my camera were the only sounds around.
"Somewhere inbetween an ADT guy stopped and I let him look through my binocs. Then a female taxi driver came by for a smoke break – her shift almost over and seven drunk guys safe at home.
"As the orange-brown Moon started dipping towards the west, two more cars stopped. It was nice to share the view with a few others but somewhat of an anti-climax when a lady said: "They say this is because the Americans have shot down that satellite"
"The road behind me was suddenly getting busier. A few female tight-assed joggers with little lights flashing on waistbelts and ankles went by constantly checking their stop watches, probably warming up for their later sessions with private instructors. As they passed , one remarked to the others: "I see we have to share our beach again this morning" I replied: "No lady it is our space that we're sharing with you this morning."
"A thick mist enveloped the ship that I had had my sights on and then swallowed the Moon as well.
"I headed home just at the beginning of the morning rush hour traffic.
"As I went up Tygerberg Hill, I looked back and saw the beautiful Moon of the night making one last effort to shine through a heavely polluted horizon.
"I was back in reality."
Pat got a good view of the eclipse from Laingsburg. Her photo below (taken at 05:53, fl=88.8mm, t=1/30sec) shows the partially eclipsed Moon setting. In the foreground is "the railway bridge "that the Blokhuis guarded and it would be behind the trees probably just out of the picture to the left, next to the N1."
Anthony photographed the eclipse from Sounion (south of Athens, Greece). He writes:
"For my location, the moon had started to descend along the western sky with totality starting at 29° altitude and concluding 50 minutes later at 15° altitude. Perhaps my greatest challenge was my chosen foreground, the Temple of Poseidon at Sounion, Greece and a two-hr drive south of Athens, where the lighting on the grounds was turned off at 3 AM local time and a full two hours before the start of totality.
"Having panicked, I could not find any means to capture both the moon and the foreground with a single exposure until I came up with the wild and crazy idea to drive my car onto a strictly forbidden area and use the car's lights (high-beams) to light up the Temple. My 50 euro investment (bribe for the local guard on duty to allow me to drive the car onto the desired area) was rewarded," as his image clearly shows.
"I found the eclipse to be a bright one, lots of orange and yellow, rather than red or brown," writes veteran eclipse watcher Tim Cooper.
"The whole picture was a beauty," writes June Bracey of Somerset West, "with the mauve outlines of the dark parts looked like a big Africa with a bronzed pink sea and a little Madagascar."
For your further viewing pleasure, enjoy some more eclipse photos in the gallery by Wim Filmalter (Karoo), Francois Nortje (Johannesburg), Philip van Heerden (Sandbaai), George Liakos (Rustenberg), Kos Coronaios (Soutpansberg) and myself (near Gordon's Bay).
More eclipse photos can be enjoyed on the ASSA's Imaging Section website, where the "Eclipsed Moon Awakening" competition is being hosted.
via: Carol Botha, Pat Booth, Athony Ayioyamitis, Tim Cooper, June Bracey.
nothing more to see. please move along.