There had been a lot of press about this lunar eclipse so I was prepared. Usually, I either forget about the upcoming eclipse by the time it arrives or I learn about it after it’s gone. My first lunar eclipse – a memorable moment in youth – appeared unexpectedly. My sister and I were sleeping on a Mediterranean Sea beach in Yugoslavia in 1973 (remember Yugoslavia?). The full moon overhead mysteriously darkened into the color and incandescence of a dying ember.
The problem here was finding an unobstructed view to the east for the moonrise. On the West Coast, the eclipse would begin shortly after it drifted above the horizon. The day had been partly cloudy, not a good sign. I chose the coastal town of Davenport, figuring we might possibly get both a sunset and a moonrise together. Arriving at Route One we found a thick cloud bank covering the eastern and southern sky. We continued past Davenport toward the clear skies we could see to the north. But no matter how far we drove, we could not escape the obscuring clouds. We returned to Davenport and climbed a sand dune as the sun sunk into the sea, covering everything in pink before it disappeared.
Others had also gathered in small shadowy clusters in the crepuscular gloom. After 30 minutes we gave up hope for a view of the eclipse and went to dinner at the Davenport Roadside Restaurant to soothe our disappointment. I’d just have to wait the 18 years for the next supermoon lunar eclipse when I would be a mere 80 years old.
Engrossed in our tasty dinner, it took me a while to catch on to what was happening in the restaurant. Customers kept walking around, going outside and back in, back and forth, with large glasses of wine in hand (Californians always carry around large glasses of wine). Suddenly – duh! – I understood that they were keeping tabs on the eclipsed moon that must have become visible. From the nearest porch, the moon appeared just above the tree line and was starting to slip out of eclipse. The bottom edge was bright, so dazzling in fact, that it made the dried blood red of the earth’s shadow seem even darker.
By the time my tripod and camera were set up, the sun’s reflected light had crept further up the moon’s face.The wispy clouds that still lingered caught some of the increasing glow. Feeling time pressured and also unfamiliar with photographing under such strange conditions, I was only able to get a few passable photos.