Posts Tagged ‘Lunar’

Photo: Suzanne and John’s Mom.
The total lunar eclipse begins in Massachusetts, November 8, 2022.

It was cold between 4 and 5 a.m., but I had my winter clothes over my bathrobe. Other than my husband, no one else was outside.

Today is special for two reasons. It’s election day, which is the reason that matters most to me. But there was also a total lunar eclipse, an event that can put all human anxieties in perspective.

I am always up early anyway, and I enjoyed watching the earth’s shadow pass gradually over the moon. I watched until the eclipse was total but couldn’t watch the shadow move away because the moon had descended too low.

I loved how you could still see the moon faintly glowing even in the total eclipse. And I thought about how a total lunar eclipse will not occur again for another three years. Where will I be then?

Shannon Hall reported for the New York Times about what to expect when watching the eclipse.

“During the early hours on Tuesday, darkness will slip across the face of the moon before it turns a deep blood red. … Anyone awake in the United States will have a front-row seat as the sun, the Earth and the moon line up, causing the moon to pass through Earth’s shadow in the last total lunar eclipse until 2025.

“ ‘To me, the most significant thing about a lunar eclipse is that it gives you a sense of three-dimensional geometry that you rarely get in space — one orb passing through the shadow of another,’ said Bruce Betts, the chief scientist at the Planetary Society. …

“In North America, observers on the West Coast will get the best view. At 12:02 a.m. Pacific time, the moon will enter the outer part of Earth’s shadow and dim ever so slightly. But the total phase of the eclipse — the true star of the show — won’t begin until 2:16 a.m. That phase is called totality, when the moon enters the darkest part of Earth’s shadow and shines a deep blood-red hue. Totality will last for roughly 90 minutes until 3:41 a.m., and by 5:56 a.m. the moon will have returned to its well-known silvery hue. …

“Viewers on the East Coast, on the other hand, will have to set their alarms early. Although they won’t be able to watch the entire eclipse, they can catch totality, which will run from 5:16 a.m. …

“No matter where you are and which phase of the eclipse is happening, it is safe to watch with your unaided eyes.

“It may come as a surprise that the moon doesn’t simply darken as it enters Earth’s shadow. That’s because moonlight is usually just reflected sunlight. And while most of that sunlight is blocked during a lunar eclipse, some of it wraps around the edges of our planet — the edges that are experiencing sunrise and sunset at that moment. That filters out the shorter, bluer wavelengths and allows only redder, longer wavelengths to hit the moon. …

“ ‘For many cultures, the disappearance of the moon was seen as a time of danger, chaos,’ said Shanil Virani, an astronomer at George Washington University. The Inca, for example, believed that a jaguar attacked the moon during an eclipse. The Mesopotamians saw it as an assault on their king. In ancient Hindu mythology, a demon swallowed the moon.

“But not all lunar eclipses result in the deep red that led to the ‘blood moon’ nickname. Just as the intensity of a sunrise or a sunset can vary from day to day, so can the colors of an eclipse. It’s mostly dependent on particles in our planet’s atmosphere. Wildfire smoke or volcanic dust can deepen the red hues of a sunset, and they can also affect the eclipsed moon’s hue. …

“The color of the moon can therefore reveal signatures from our own atmosphere — a trick that could be used for future observations of planets around distant stars.

“Astronomers don’t typically observe exoplanets directly. Instead, they look for transits, or telltale blips when a planet crosses in front of its parent star. During such a time, starlight is filtered through the exoplanet’s atmosphere in the same way that, during a lunar eclipse, sunlight passes through Earth’s atmosphere before it hits the moon. …

“Manisha Shrestha, an astronomer at the University of Arizona, has another idea in mind. She plans to observe the lunar eclipse on Tuesday from the Bok Telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona with the hope of spotting not only certain chemicals within our atmosphere, but also their distribution.

“This technique has never been performed on exoplanets before and could mean that future detections won’t simply reveal whether an exoplanet has clouds, but whether those clouds smother the world in a thick layer or whether they are slightly uneven, as clouds on Earth are. If those clouds were both uneven and composed of water vapor, that exoplanet just might be Earth 2.0. …

“ ‘From the cosmic perspective, our problems are temporary things — things that are passing fancies of the human species,’ [Andrew Fraknoi, an astronomer at the University of San Francisco] said. ‘The eclipse connects you to cycles and rhythms that are much older.’ ”

Yes. I could feel that.

More at the Times, here. For eclipse information without a firewall, see National Public Radio, here.

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Photo: KevinFielder at Imgur.
For those who celebrate the Lunar New Year (and those who tag along for fun), this is the Year of the Ox.

I asked a friend who was born in Northern China about the attributes of people born in the Year of the Ox. He told me it was all nonsense. Unsatisfied, asked, “Do you know anyone born in the Year of the Ox?” His father, he said. “So what’s he like?” I asked. “Obstinate. He’s hardworking but he’s really stubborn. Not open to new ideas.”

Sounds like an ox to me. You don’t have to believe in the Chinese Zodiac to see why it’s fun.

I went to a website called Chinese New Year, here, and to Wikipedia, here, to see what I could see. Wikipedia reports, “In Chinese mythology, many myths about oxen or ox-like entities include celestial and earthly beings. … In some cases, Chinese myths focus on oxen-related subjects, such as plowing and agriculture or ox-powered carriage. …

“According to some old mythological traditions there was a race held by a great deity to determine which creatures, in which order, would be the namesakes of the twelve-year cycle. The race was run, and swum, the finishing line being across a great river. The Rat and the Ox crossed easily enough, the Ox due to being large, powerful, and adept both on land and in water: the Rat asked the good-natured Ox for a ride on its back, but then ungratefully jumped off at the last minute to cross the finish line first.

“The Year of the Ox does not exactly correspond with years of the commonly used Gregorian calendar. For the 2021–2022 Gregorian time period, the Year of the Ox begins on 12 February 2021 and ends 31 January 2022.

This is a year of the Metal Ox.

The Chinese New Year website says, “In Chinese culture, the Ox is a valued animal. Because of its role in agriculture, positive characteristics, such as being hardworking and honest, are attributed to it.”

If you go to that website, you can check to see if you know anyone born in the Year of the Ox. Recent years include 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, etc. You can also learn what the future may hold for an Ox Year baby, and what animal years provide the best marriage partners.

“Oxen are honest and earnest,” says the Chinese New Year site. “They are low key and never look for praise or to be the center of attention. This often hides their talent, but they’ll gain recognition through their hard work. They believe that everyone should do what’s asked for them and stay within their bounds. Though they are kind, it’s difficult for them to understand persuasion using pathos.

“[Men] born in the Ox Year are reliable and trustworthy. They put their entire heart into everything they do. They feel great responsibility towards their family as well. However, due to their confidence (almost arrogance), they don’t allow anyone to go against their rules. They hold [their] children to high expectations, even though it might be unrealistic.”

If you know people born in 1973, say — which, like this year, is a Metal Year of the Ox — you can tell them that they “face obstacles early on, although there are no financial worries. Friends and family aren’t much help, but [Metal Year Oxen] will be able to enjoy a comfortable retirement.”

Besides metal, there are other specific types of Ox Year: Water, Wood, Fire, and Earth. I heard about that taxonomy when my second grandson was born. Suzanne had visited Bhutan before her marriage, and was interested when a Buddhist monk suggested a name for her firstborn. She used the Swedish translation of that name as a middle name.

That baby came in a Dragon Year, and we learned he was, specifically, a “Water Dragon.” He does love to swim and sail, but he has a mysterious hostility to ice!

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