Syzygy


28Sept2015

When three celestial objects are aligned, it is known as syzygy, which also is a good scrabble word if you have no vowels. Late last night into early this morning the earth threw a shadow as it came between the sun and moon. “But wait! There’s more!” Like a high-pressure hyperbolic infomercial sales pitch for a celestial product, this was a supermoon, 14% larger and 33% brighter than other full moons.

Many places around the world had a spectacular view of this Blood Moon eclipse, but my yard wasn’t among them. A sky full of clouds didn’t seem a promising start, but I went out and set up my camera and tripod anyway. I caught a brief glimpse of a muted red moon through thick clouds right near totality, too faint to photograph. So I waited, and waited, and finally with just minutes before it ended early this morning there was just enough clearing to take this photo marking the tail end of the eclipse.

Perhaps as fun as photographing the moon, my quiet vigil watching for breaks in the clouds gave me time to ponder the many legends that have developed around the lunar eclipse. Here in the southeast the Cherokee believe a frog eats the moon. Variations on this theme of the moon being swallowed are common around the world, with the culprits ranging from dogs and dragons to toads and jaguars. After several hours waiting for the moon to come out from behind the clouds, I was hungry and felt ready to eat the moon myself. If I could have worked out the logistics that would have been the start of yet another legend!