Tomorrow Night! Total Lunar Eclipse!

About 24 hours from now, the primary part of a total lunar eclipse starts.

You’ll probably be seeing clickbait headlines all day tomorrow, especially online. “How To Watch Sunday’s Rare ‘Super Flower Blood Moon’ Total Lunar Eclipse!!!” While I’ll say that a total lunar eclipse can be beautiful and cool and amazing and awe inspiring, I sort of despise the over the top hype.

First of all, it’s not particularly rare. Unlike a solar eclipse that might happen at a particular spot on the planet every several thousand years, lunar eclipses happen every few years. For example, this blog has now just turned nine years old and I think this will be at least the fourth lunar eclipse that I’ve covered, might be the fifth. It’s a stretch in my book to call that “rare,” but maybe I’m just not easily impressed.

Secondly, unlike a solar eclipse which can only be seen along a very narrow strip across the planet for a minute or two, and which requires some eye protection to safely see the partial phases, a lunar eclipse can be seen by half of the planet at a time and requires nothing other than your eyeballs. If you’re on the lucky half of the planet where the moon is up while it’s happening, go outside, look. No further rocket science is necessary.

Finally, I don’t know what a “Flower Blood Moon” is. The moon during a total lunar eclipse will turn some shade of red, from brownish-red to coppery red to orangish red. That makes it “cool” to talk about a “blood moon,” but since we moved out the hunter-gatherer days a few thousand years ago, I prefer the wonder and beauty of the science and reality rather than this pseudo-Neolithic affectation.

So what should you expect? First of all, for your personal times, go here and put in your location or look up a city near you. For a more general overview of what’s going on, go here.

Big picture? The Earth’s shadow has a very dim and faint outer ring called the penumbra, and a much darker inner ring called the umbra.

  1. The Moon will start to enter the penumbra and it will be almost impossible to tell with the naked eye. You can ignore this part except for looking at how pretty and bright the 99.999999% full moon is.
  2. The Moon will start to enter the umbra (the partial eclipse begins). As it slowly moves in you’ll see a very noticeable, dark shadow moving across the moon until there’s just a sliver of the the moon fully illuminated. This takes an hour or so.
  3. The Moon will be completely inside the umbra (the beginning of totality) and will be some shade of red or orange or brown – it all depends on how the Earth’s atmosphere is, the amount of cloud cover at that moment, the amount of dust and water, etc. The shade, color, and amount of shading is highly unpredictable, one of the fun things to look for.
  4. The Moon will start to exit the umbra (the ending of totality) and we’ll just run this show backwards as the brightly lit portion of the moon starts to grow.
  5. The Moon finally exit the umbra (the partial eclipse ends) but still be in the penumbra for an hour or so. Again, you can ignore this.

Tomorrow night, those important times are:

  1. 21:32 EDT, 18:32 PDT (the Moon will still be below the horizon on the West Coast)
  2. 22:27 EDT, 19:27 PDT (the Moon will rise at about 19:40 PDT, so you’ll miss the first few minutes, but it’s not that big of a deal)
  3. 23:29 EDT, 20:29 PDT
  4. 00:53 EDT, 21:53 PDT
  5. 01:55 EDT, 22:55 PDT
  6. Go to sleep!

And examples of what it might look like?

A few minutes after the start of the partial eclipse in November 2021.

About halfway through the partial phase, just before the clouds completely covered up everything in November 2021.

Just before totality, September 2015. You can see how the coppery red color is covering about 90% of the Moon’s disc.

Totality from April 2015. You can see how the coloration and depth of the shadow can change from being lighter at the edge of the umbra (right side of this disc) to being much darker in the center (left side).

What will tomorrow look like? Who knows? Let’s hope that it’s not cloudy, wherever you are. Even if it is, I hope maybe you’ll catch a break in the clouds for a few minutes during totality to get a glance.

If you’re totally clouded out, check out some of the online coverage from NASA, Griffith Observatory, Lowell Observatory, or any number of other places that will be trying to livestream it.

Or check out my Facebook stream to see if I’m nuts enough to be trying to livestream it. Crazier things have happened!

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Filed under Astronomy, Photography, Space

Wandering In Moonlight

First observation – a bit less than 48 hours before the moon goes into the Earth’s shadow and we get a full lunar eclipse, the moonlight is bright but soft, the breezes are calm, it’s comfortable, and an almost perfect evening out there.

Second observation – even when you’re just goofing around, the iPhone 13 will take a NICE picture using nothing but moonlight.

Third observation – some days it’s better to be lucky than good. Even on Friday the Thirteenth! With absolutely zero planning whatsoever, this picture lined up beautifully with the Big Dipper (upside down over my head with the bowl right over my head and the handle curving up toward the tree) and the two “pointer” stars at the end of the bowl pointing at Polaris, the North Star, which is just over my shoulder.

So, yeah, total lunar eclipse on Sunday night. If you’re in the Western Hemisphere and have a clear sky (or even a “clear-ish” sky) you’ll have a good view. It’s relatively early, it’s relatively high and bright. No telescopes or eye protection needed. (This is a lunar eclipse when the moon goes into the Earth’s shadow. For a solar eclipse, where the Sun goes into the Earth’s shadow, eye protection is critical. But this is the other one!) You don’t need to go to any special location.

Go outside. After dark. Look at the sky. Enjoy.

Binoculars might be nice if you have them. Maybe a lawn chair or a blanket. Bug spray if you’re someplace where there are mosquitoes. Or not! The Mark One eyeball works just fine, even if you’re just standing there or leaning against your car.

More information and times and details tomorrow. Showtime on Sunday night. For now, you can start with this.

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Fine Feathered Friends – May 12th

Well, “feathered-ish” at least. Perhaps “potentailly feathered.”

We’re at about the time when I would be expecting Lucy & Ricky’s eggs to be hatching – but there are a lot of variables. We don’t know exactly when they were laid, the gestation period is 12 to 16 days, etc. But soon. Very soon.

One thing I would note is that I’ve seen Ricky hanging around the nest more than usual and twice it looked like he was feeding Lucy. The article I read on finch gestation said that for a few days just before hatching and the first week or so after hatching the female will sit on the next constantly wit the male feeding her. So, maybe it’s a sign?

Also this evening we got a huge racket going on out in the trees out back. (See yesterday for a picture of the trees.) The crows were sounding the alarm, and the red-shouldered hawk pair that live down in the canyon below us were up shrieking in our trees.

Seeing and hearing the two of them up close (maybe 20-25 feet away) didn’t suck.

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Filed under Birds, Critters, Photography, Video

Not A Marathon Or Even A Triathalon

That finish line? It’s not, just the start of the next race.

Off in those branches there used to be two adult squirrels. In the last couple of weeks there were two adult squirrels and at least three, maybe four (or more?) baby squirrels. Now there are two adults and two former baby squirrels, so presumably there’s also a well-fed hawk or owl around. Circle of life.

The squirrels don’t race. They just are. Trust me, with brains the size of peanuts, nothing profound passes across those squirrelly neurons beyond stealing bird seed.

We race, and if we expect something at the end of a marathon other than another race, well, that’s on us, not on the races.

If we think we’re running a triathalon and we expect something after the swimming, biking, and marathon other than some other kind of race, and then another, we don’t have any cause to be disappointed when our expectations turn out to be bogus.

As Hawkeye Pierce said (more or less), “Carry on! Cary Grant! Carry me back to old Virginny!”

Hawkeye kept on going. He didn’t have a choice. And neither do we.

Stupid squirrels.

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Filed under Deep Thoughts, Paul, Photography

Fine Feathered Friends – May 10th

I was out looking at other things today when suddenly there was this flash above me in the tree. A visitor I’ve only seen twice before.

The yellow crow is back!

I could only see it for a few seconds, through the branches, so this was the best photo, but it’s a thrill to see it again!

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No Context For You – May 09th

Blurred. That’s what reality feels like at times these days. Like a Twilight Zone episode where you suddenly can start to see the machinery behind the scenes or be able to poke your finger through the fabric of spacetime and see what’s lying underneath, maybe give it a little tear.

Too many deadlines some days, too little time to breathe, headaches just a bit too sharp, everything just too, Too, TOO!

Maybe there was a dream that was a bit too vivid, a bit too desirable, an inch too far out of reach when we woke up. Maybe the news was a bit too bizarre, a touch too threatening, a dollop too insane.

Maybe all of the above.

Keep moving, don’t look too closely into the corners or shadows.

Keep moving.

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Filed under Deep Thoughts, Paul, Photography

Skyscapes – May 08th

Some days you have pretty clouds and skies and trees and you just have to allow yourself to sink into the combination of them all while listening to the birds.

Better days ahead, worse days ahead.

Hopefully far more of the former and far fewer of the latter!

Either way, you have to take them both.

Some days it sucks, but that’s sort of how the game is played.

Yes, the game is rigged that way, but if you didn’t have the bad, how would you know how wonderful the good is?

Maybe you got to spend some good time with your mother today, either in-person or electronically. Good for you!

Maybe you couldn’t, but you got to remember her and talk to her anyway. Maybe she talked back. Good for you!

Maybe you’re a mother yourself. Good for you!

Whatever the circumstances were, I hope you had a good weekend and are ready to kick Monday’s pathetic ass.

Make Monday your bitch! Report back in here afterwards to sing the songs of your battles and tell of the glorious downfall of your fallen foe.

(No, I haven’t had anything at all to drink. Why do you ask?)

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Filed under Deep Thoughts, Family, Photography

Scanned

I spent a chunk of Saturday morning getting a CT scan on my head, which was cool!

I have no results, nor do I have any clue what they wanted to look at, although my sense of it was more of a “Well, let’s eliminate this just on the off chance that it might be an issue” for whatever they’re fiddling with.

So, for now I’m going with the old joke – “Results Negative – NO BRAIN FOUND!”

Funny until proven wrong!

What I was REALLY hoping for was superpowers, maybe even the newly acquired superhero skill set of Zoey in one of my favorite shows of the last couple of years. Nothing yet.

Getting old is not for the fainthearted.

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California Voting

Like many states, California has midterm primary elections coming up in a month or so. With that on the horizon, today I got, within the course of about three minutes:

  • A text message from the LA County Registrar of Voters, telling me that my mail-in ballot had been mailed today. I should get it within a week.
  • A voice mail message from the LA County Registrar of Voters, telling me that my mail-in ballot had been mailed today. I should get it within a week.
  • An email from the LA County Registrar of Voters, telling me that my mail-in ballot had been mailed today. I should get it within a week.

I spent about two seconds thinking about how this was overkill, but then reality set in and I remembered how many states (guess how many of them are controlled by an uber right-wing, conservative political party?) are banning mail in voting, early voting, drop boxes for voting, and doing everything they can, legal and otherwise, to prevent folks from voting. I’m a demographic (male, white, reasonably well off) that probably wouldn’t suffer much from those efforts, but I have no interest in living in one of those states where people like me are working so stinking hard to completely screw over people who are not like me.

So I’m going to be grateful to be in California in general and in Los Angeles County in particular where voting is encouraged, even for those who aren’t necessarily like me. They can bombard me with helpful, transparent information all they want.

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Filed under Paul, Politics

Surprise Flowers

I was taking the recycling bin out to the back yard today and was surprised to see this one big plant covered in these bright, fuscia flowers.

We’ve been in this house for four years, but this is the first time I remember ever seeing this plant flowering.

The flowers all have this tiny little five-part center, which is amazing to look at up close.

I’m thinking if I had seen this previously I would have remembered. But maybe not. Cue that old joke about the advantage to “senioritis” being that you could hide Easter eggs and then find them yourself the next day!

Either way, they were a joy today, and probably tomorrow and the next few days as well. I’ll take it!

Never look a gift pistil in the mouth!

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