Tuesday, August 28, 2007
In the shadow of the planet
London, ON, August 28, 2007, 5:53:57 a.m.
The experts were saying we won't have a lunar eclipse this deep, this dark or this long for a whole lotta years to come. So before bed last night, we spoke about the eclipse with the kids and asked them if they wanted us to wake them up. They seemed excited about seeing something so mysterious and rare, and they all agreed to be roused at an ungodly hour. Bedtime was a cacaphony of questions about how it worked and why it was happening now. They all drifted off to sleep, thinking about waking to to something cool.
Here's my hastily-captured recollection of how the morning played out:
4:45 a.m.: My alarm goes off six minutes before the sun's shadow is set to begin to eat into the moon. I look out the windows and freak a little when I see clouds. Not just a few clouds. A sky filled with thick, patchy clouds. So many that I can't even find the moon. Apparently, clouds are bad for eclipse-watching.
I go outside and manage to catch the occasional glimpse of our only real satellite through little openings in the cloud deck. I silently will the clouds to go away. When that doesn't work, I go inside and think about it at the kitchen table - well, I try to think, because my early-morning brain is feeling decidedly sleepy. So I head back to bed and set the alarm for another 20 minutes of blessed rest.
5:30: Okay, I end up hitting the snooze bar a few times too many. When I finally roll out of bed and wander over to the window, the sky looks brighter and the clouds are dissipating. I run outside. The moon's hanging in the sky and the eclipse is well underway. Showtime. I skip back into the house and gently wake everyone. They seem to smile in the dark as they fetch their shoes and sweatshirts and head for the door. The dog, weirded out that we're all getting up while it's still dark, follows us silently.
5:40: We gather in the street in front of our house. Frasier thinks he's going for a ride in the car. Not so much. Dahlia holds him as he continues to look at us as if we're nuts.
5:43: I take this picture of the fam as they look up at the otherworldly sight in the sky.
5:46: Little man has to pee. Deb takes him in and Zach, Dahlia and I head around the corner for a better look. The dog comes along on the adventure. The clouds are now completely gone, and the kids are buzzing with chatter about what they're witnessing.
5:52: Dawn approaches. The black sky begins to turn deep blue. Impromptu planetary physics lessons continue as we discuss how the Earth is now between the moon and the sun. I throw the camera onto the tripod and shoot with the remote control. I realize a wandering puppy doesn't help when you're doing longish exposures.
6:10: Everyone's yawning, but we're all excited about what we've seen. The moon is now deep in shade and the sky is brightening by the second. We decide to head in so we can get some more sleep before the kids go to camp. Dahlia consents to one last picture as we slowly walk back to the house, stealing more than a few glances over our shoulders to ensure what we just saw wasn't an illusion.
Something tells me they'll remember this morning for a very long time. So will I.
Your turn: Ever have a rare early-morning adventure with folks who matter?