The Lunatic Is On The Grass

October 8, 2014

The eclipse nears totality.

The Moon is lit simultaneously by the scattered red glow of sunrise and sunset.

The Moon’s edge approaches the light.

The Moon leaves the umbra.

The Ocean of Storms and Crater Copernicus come into the light.

The Sea of Rains and Sea of Moisture leave Earth’s shadow.

The Sea of Serenity and the Crater Tycho near the terminator.

I left the house around 1:30 and made it to Ocean Beach by 2. Unfortunately, contrary to the prediction of a clear night, it was quite foggy. Moreover, the parking at Ocean Beach is weirdly 100% restricted between 2 and 5 a.m. I thought I might try and leverage Twin Peaks’ altitude, but the fog unfortunately thickened as I ascended.

I considered retreating to the East Bay, where, though San Francisco is quite bright, the observing conditions were at least clear. However, as I came down from Twin Peaks and headed east on Haight at around 2:30, the sky cleared up. This was fortunate timing, as the first edges of the Earth’s shadow impinged on the Moon at around 2:24. I found a parking spot and made it to Duboce Park without missing too much.

I set up my tripod and put on my telephoto lens, which served as a reasonable telescope substitute. Over the course of a few hours I took over 250 photographs. From the previews on the LCD screen on my camera, they were coming out amazing. Unfortunately, once I got them on a higher-res screen, it was apparent that they were mostly blurry or dark. If I adjusted the exposure time to capture enough light to see details of the moon and a few stars, those few seconds were enough for the Earth to rotate slightly and alter the positions in the sky, blurring the photo. That disappointment means it is worth it to buy a telescope with an equatorial mount for the future.

I spent the evening with two nice people who live across the street from Duboce Park, Kemrexx and Kyla, and their dog Pablo, plus some transient people walking through the park. We shared some beers, geeked out about astronomy, and watched the moon together. Two cop cars scoped us out, seemingly unaware of the ongoing wonder in the heavens.

Though I wish it had been darker, the field in Duboce park is big enough to get you away from the immediate glare of any streetlights, and the night was clear enough to see many stars. Uranus, which ought to have been visible through my camera, was outshone even by the eclipsed Moon.

The Moon itself was red. Really red, and very pretty.

October 8, 2014

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