Making the Lunar Eclipse Your Own: So what are you doing for the Super Blue Blood Moon?
The Full Moon is SUPER because it’s closest to the Earth making it 14% larger than the smallest Full Moon. It’s BLUE because it’s the second FULL MOON of the month. On those occasions when you had two full moons in a month, the old Farmer’s Almanac painted the first Full Moon red and the second blue. It’s BLOOD because there will be a lunar eclipse occurring. This is where the Earth’s shadow traverses the Moon and colors it a deep blood red. Well, it doesn’t always turn blood red, sometimes it’s a brick red or an orange or a brown or even disappears altogether. The color of the lunar eclipse depends on the Moon’s position within the Earth’s shadow, and also the amount of dust in the atmosphere of our planet to bend the light.
So what are you doing for this rare celestial event? If you’re still deciding you don’t have much time. So let me throw some ideas out there.
- Find out when the lunar eclipse will take place for your locale.
- Have a party. This is an event best shared with others! Lunar treats are a must- Moon Pies, Blue Moon, and other moon munchies. You’ll find food ideas all over the Internet.
- Moon music. This is a party people! Get appropriate lunar songs playing for you guests as they gape at our closest neighbor. Blue Moon, Moon River, Dancing in the Moonlight, Fly Me to the Moon…you get the idea.
- Cameras, telescopes, binoculars, sketchpad and pencils. The bottom line is that however you decide to view this- you want a record of the event.
- Have some fun. Hand out slip of paper and have each of your guests write a sentence describing what their seeing and especially how it makes them feel. They can write more than one sentence, but make sure that each sentence is on a separate slip of paper. After the event happens go in the house, collect all of the writings, and have everyone arrange them together to make some poetry. Or depending on your guests a “Mad Lib” story.
- Sketchpad. Draw a circle representing the Moon ahead of time. Leave plenty of room on your paper. During the partial phase when you can see the shadow of the Earth on the Moon, draw the curve of the Earth’s shadow as accurately as you can on the paper. Later you can extend the curved line to make a full circle. This gives an idea of the relative size of the Earth and the Moon! With a little math you can calculate how many times larger the Earth is than the Moon. See the following link for details. Lunar Eclipse Size
- What color is the Moon? The Danjon scale helps you do just that! During totality see which of the following best fits the Moons color and brightness: 0: Very dark eclipse, Moon almost invisible, especially in mid-totality. 1: Dark eclipse, gray or brownish coloration, details distinguishable only with difficulty. 2: Deep red or rust-colored eclipse, with a very dark central part in the shadow, and outer edge of the umbra relatively bright. 3: Brick-red eclipse, usually with a bright or yellow rim to the shadow. · 4: Very bright copper-red or orange eclipse, with a bluish, very bright shadow rim.
- Photography. Lots of great Internet articles on how to shoot the Moon with your digital camera. If you have just your cell phone camera that won’t work for the Moon unless you have a special lens attachment for it. Regardless you want to make certain the camera is rock solid on a tripod.
- Telescope and binoculars will certainly enhance your view of the eclipse, but they are not necessary to really enjoy the experience.
Whether it’s your first or your fifteenth lunar eclipse, there is nothing better than watching an ominous darkness cover the Moon turning the majestic white orb into “blood.” And there is nothing better than sharing that experience with someone. I have seen many lunar eclipses with and without telescopes. The one that is my favorite is a cold December morning in 2010. I had several cameras going including one in a remote site 2,000 miles away. Totality had just begun, and I got some great pictures, but now it was time for the piece de resistance. I went into the house and woke up my 11 year old son, and at 4 AM we went outside and climbed the ladder onto the second story of his treehouse. There we were sitting together on a bench with a sleeping blanket thrown over us, snuggled in the red glow of the Moon. We talked and laughed and shared thoughts about his first lunar eclipse. It was a magical moment. Years later we would share his first annular and total eclipse of the Sun.
This is what really brings life into any experience; the people that you can share it with, and the stories that you can tell. It’s the stories that you will long remember after the event has passed.
What am I doing for the Super Blue Blood Moon? Nothing. The Moon will have set here on the eastern shoreline of the United States before the eclipse happens. But I wish you well in your endeavors, experiences and stories. So get out there and make this one your own!