Shadows at Night

Posted: 20 February 2008 in joy, the fantastic

I’m watching out my window as I type for hints of the eclipse.  It’s early yet.  If the clouds permit a glimpse or two, the best show in our area won’t be until around 10 tonight.  Right now, it’s still brilliant and white, craters showing up as dingy fingerprints, clouds racing past on the edge of the clipper that raced through this afternoon.

I last watched a lunar eclipse early in the millennium in a wide open field in Southern Africa.  There were no lights in that part of the country and the southern hemisphere stars were unfamiliar and glaring.  There was a strange mix of people around.  Even as late as it was, workers were still walking home in the pitch black, foreigners were out to see the celestial spectacle, there was a suspicious rustling in the bushes, and there were noises where there should have been quiet.  A country with a history of war, the citizens still harbor some mistrust of strangers and the sparse groups of people gave each other wide berth on the road cutting through the field. 

The moon turned a deep red when it was eclipsed and I couldn’t take my eyes off of the dim, shadowy stain.  It certainly cast a quiet over the field, not surprising given the general panic eclipses in general caused.  During the total solar eclipse that year, people literally hid in their homes or lay on the street, eyes covered, until it passed.  You would have thought the city had been abandoned, but for the occasional unfortunate who had been caught out, frozen, Pompeii-style, on the road.  And so I’m peeking at the moon and waiting for the flush of red, wondering how it will look through our chilly northern air and whether February will let me see it.

If we’re lucky, maybe we’ll see the blue flash.  There will be points for that, absolutely.

  1. Will says:

    I saw it man, from a snow-covered sixth-story rooftop did I see. There were troops of people coming out to see the eclipse in Africa? I’ve got to find a less jaded/desensitized population; I couldn’t get anyone I knew to even go out and see it on their own. One guy actually told me he was staying in because he didn’t know if it was cloudy (it wasn’t at all), and he couldn’t look out the window to see if it was cloudy because “it’s dark out.”

    I think I saw a blue halo on the edge…not knowing what that looks like, though, I can’t really say for sure.

  2. backlist says:

    I didn’t see any blue, though it might have been because my eyeballs were frozen. I was so grateful for a clear night sky though. But really, staying in because it was dark out?!

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