As I write this, I’m sitting out on the balcony under a relatively clear sky, with a Full Moon that’s unusually dark red, tapping away on my laptop. This is because of the total lunar eclipse that’s in progress right now, which is the first I’ve seen for seven years, and generally quite impressive. The thing that’s come to mind over and over again as I watch this is that it should be possible to estimate the Moon’s diameter by estimating the difference between the curvature of the Moon’s edge and that of the Earth’s shadow. I haven’t actually bothered to do this, though.
We started out by going to the Thomas King Observatory (next to Carter) for a Wellington Astronomical Society event, where we met up with Vicky, George, Edwin and Nicole, a collection of other members and astronomers, a television news camera operator, a Dominion Post photographer, and a substantial number of people who’d read about the event in the paper. It was a little disappointing that the person with the keys to the TKO was unable to show up, but we didn’t let that spoil the evening. I tried to take a few photos, but they haven’t come out too well so I might just leave the eclipse photos to the experts. (For as much as I enjoy astronomy and tracking down things in telescopes, astrophotography has never been a great interest of mine.)
After watching the Moon creep completely into the Umbra, and totality, the clouds rolled in from the south, and we decided it was about time to get going. Rather than go straight home, though, we drove to the south coast to say hello to Paul, who was running another event. The clouds had actually cleared quite a bit over the south, and we were able to get a much more complete view. The down-side, unfortunately, was that it was very windy and very cold.
So having arrived home, I’m now relaxing on the balcony, which is sheltered, and the sky’s cleared up a lot. It’s a great view. I haven’t really decided how long I’ll sit here, although the Moon should be starting to leave the umbra in about 4 minutes time.