I promised my friend Dash I would use the term ‘Apoceclipse’ to describe last night’s Perigee Harvest Moon Lunar Eclipse, so here it is! Last night was great fun, even though I couldn’t see the event at all due to cloud cover. Here’s why.
It all started with a media blitz and a crazy day at the Science Centre. I started off by doing a Global News interview in the morning, and then a 680 news phone in around lunchtime. I had a planetarium show, and then it was off to CBC downtown to do the national news live! It was a non-stop day. The news reports went well and then it was back to work for a star party that we hosted at the Ontario Science Centre!
We ended up with a huge turnout of about 500 people to the event! Even though it was cloudy in Toronto, I spent 5 hours talking non-stop to people about the eclipse, why it is red, what the supermoon means, and why they should care. We had telescopes, storytelling, arts and crafts, and a lot of great science demos, so everyone had a good time. The best moment was when the clouds cleared for a few seconds, showing everyone the eclipse in progress with about half the moon covered in darkness. The crowd erupted in applause at the sight of the Moon, making the whole thing feel like an ancient celebration of some great invisible Moon god. Still, even a few seconds of visibility made the entire day worth it.
Many parts of the world had clear skies for the event, and the photos that came in were stunning, including one below showing the eclipse in its entirety.
The best part of this image in my opinion is how it answered a very interesting series of questions I received last night. “Why is the Moon still white? Why doesn’t it start turning red yet? Does it turn red instantly?”
The answer is all about the brightness of the Moon. The bright moonlight prevents our eyes from picking up the subtle and faint red light. Once the Moon is covered in shadow, our eyes can adjust to see more of the reddish hue. The above image shows how bright the Moon is when reflecting pure sunlight, compared with the dimmer reflection of red light coming through the Earth’s atmosphere.
Yesterday was one of the busiest days I’ve had in a long time. I worked 15 hours and talked nearly non stop. But with all that went on, I had the energy to keep going. I loved every second of it. This is the life I want, to talk about space with people everywhere, all the time! To help them understand our place in the universe and why its so incredible. To experience the world as one small part of the cosmos, and revere the vast cosmic ocean. To treat each other as equals, since we are all just tiny bits of star stuff that evolved for billions of years to ponder where it came from.
I always have energy for that.