by Jim King, Field Trip & Observing
Jan 31, 2018, O dark thirty
Blue Moon/Total Lunar Eclipse, Fulshear, TX, Cross Creek Ranch
Well, this one was a way different experience from the Solar last August.
Woke up about 0600, and with the help of my wife, who is NOT an enthusiastic amateur astronomer; but, who never-the-less is tacitly supportive of my efforts, convinced our 16 year old Shih Tzu, Weasel, that, no, he really did not want to go with me where ever I was headed.
I hopped into the car and did a quick reconnaissance for the best observation point westward. I settled quickly on east side of our front lake. The view was completely unobstructed of a huge, full Moon and the western horizon. The Moon was clear and bright…higher magnitude stars were quite visible…Saturn and Mars were sitting comfortably over my left shoulder. The Moon was beautifully reflected in the quiet waters.
The @%$#%^ streetlights were on display. At least they are low-sodium and shielded and not nearly as bad as a full Moon.
I grabbed my 15x70’s and hit the trail to my second favorite park bench. On the way, I startled a Great Blue Heron from it’s sleep, who returned the favor in spades as I walked by. For those who are unfamiliar with Great Blues, they are a big as a middle-sized dog and twice as noisy when aroused….ten times on a quiet morning. And worse, the trail at that point is only three feet from the water. We were quite close to one another, literally hand-shaking distance, when it let me know I was not welcome.
I checked my pants, then planted myself more-or-less comfortably on the slightly damp bench at 0640. I observed the full, “Blue Moon” just starting to enter the eclipse phase…a slight shadow was at the top of the orb. That observation put me rapidly to work on the geometry of the shadow going from top to bottom. Fortunately, having finally understood the west-to-east solar shadow last August, this was a piece of cake… click read more