Monday, December 27, 2010
Solstice and Eclipse
The internet was originally designed to facilitate free exchange of scientific information. This was never more graphically demonstrated than on the night of December 21st, last week, when three men combined their intellects to discover an astronomical reality that had heretofore eluded human knowledge. With two observers in California and one in New York, there was adequate separation for geocentric parallax view of complete lunar eclipse. In the form of a snapshot taken that night and transcript of attendant scientific discussion, I will lay the evidence before you:
Geo.: 11:40 p.m. Perfect night for viewing here. Hope Sonoma is clear too. When I was little my big brother, Frank, tried to convince me a lunar eclipse was caused by the sun passing between earth and the moon. Would be warmer watching tonight if he was correct.
Will: Sorry we were overcast here. Got any photos of the blood red moon eclipsing? Aren't big brothers great teases? I tried to convince Paul that his name should properly be pronounced to rhyme with Raul.
Geo.: That's hilarious! How long did Paul pronounce his name pah-ool?
Will: Probably as long as you believed Frank about lunar eclipses...
Jeff: Hey Will, from the right coast you could see a crazy red tint on the lower half of the surface and green along the top edge at about 3 a.m. Through astronomical binox it looked like a combination angry Mars and Christmas ornament. These celestial anomalies always stir awe, fascination and dread, yes?. I was quite prepared for this one and still something in me cried out for a human sacrifice to stop the dragon from eating the moon.
Geo: Nice amber earth-shadow now. Tried taking a picture but couldn't turn camera-flash off, so moon just looked bright as usual.
Jeff: Will, please tell Geo. he can get great photos with the camera flash turned on, but he was probably standing too close. You want to get back at least 1,261,164,966 feet, with the sun behind you.
Geo.: I'm attaching pic from around midnight [see above] to show I wasn't standing too close. Moon looked maybe miles away. However, Jeff's earlier report that he saw the eclipse at 3 a.m. surprised me. Moon goes west and he saw it 3 hours later. Only possible with a second moon! I will share credit for this discovery with you both.
---end of transcript.
I am reminded of the quote,"Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto (I am human and nothing human is alien to me)," which, unless I misremember, came from Cicero or two centuries later from a tedious Roman playwright whose name escapes me. It is upon this sort of certainty I now believe our planet has two moons and don't know what can convince me I haven't seen the truth. When I boasted to my wife that this discovery was made without the help of women, she opined I might also find steady detective work sniffing out truffles. High praise indeed.