Sunday, March 04, 2007


Last night, Saturday 3 March, there was a total lunar eclipse with perfect conditions for viewing it. We sat out in the garden, wrapped warmly against the clean, crisp air, armed with binoculars and a fine Reserve Merlot and watched the incredible spectacle of the moon turning red. Here is a link to some photographs taken in Cambridge, not exactly the same as our experience in the south west of England but close enough.

Sitting in the garden of our 17th century cottage, we took to imagining how the original occupants of what was then a farmhouse would have interpreted the eclipse. Would they have viewed it with fear, superstition, foreboding? Would they have rushed to put the cows in the linhay in case the milk was curdled? My next major distraction will be to look up local folklore on the moon and stars.

Although total lunar eclipses are far more common than total solar eclipses, it is rare to have such a fine clear night for viewing. I hadn't seen one since childhood, when my father took me outside to 'see the moon turn to blood.' Last night, I was filled with the same awe and wonder as then and probably the same as our predecessors in the days before binoculars and scientific explanations.

Having a strongly right-brain approach to nature, I sit and gaze at the stars, at trees, at water, mountains and weather. I saw this picture, posted by hey skipper on the Daily Duck and was amazed. The science-minded friends that I showed it to were fascinated by the accompanying explanation. I think the world needs us both, those who discover, understand and explain and those of us who look on and say 'Wow!'

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