We’re interrupting our previously scheduled travel stories program with some late-breaking news of the past 24 hours here in Chicago! Our warming Spring temperatures took a plunge into the Arctic abyss yesterday when daytime highs barely got above 40-degrees F.
By afternoon, the freezing drizzle turned into lots of white wet blobs falling from the sky. Millie and I were mesmerized….what exactly was this stuff? We’d not seen it at all this past Winter in Mexico!
By late afternoon, the blobby stuff had nearly covered the backyard in white, leaving only the tippy top of each blade of grass visible.
The skies had been gray all day, so I doubted the night’s lunar eclipse would be worth staying up for. We just weren’t going to see it with all these clouds in the sky!
I’m a “night owl” and lost all track of time last night as I worked away on a computer project. By the time my yawns made me shut down my laptop, it was 1:30am. I went to let Millie out and happened to look up into the sky. Instead of clouds, I saw the Moon beginning its Total Lunar Eclipse!
I’m not sure if that sight did it (or the “brisky” nighttime air only in the mid-20’s), but I was almost instantly re-energized and now madly scrambling to find my binoculars, camera, tripod, shoes, socks, and winter coat!
For the next hour and a half, I alternated between the frigid backyard and my warm living room, uttering all kinds of “ooos” and “ahhs” as I watched this amazing “Blood Moon” show. My surrounding subdivision neighbors appeared to all be obliviously sleeping right through it (or else they saw it was “just that crazy lady again” out in her backyard in the middle of the night “howling at the moon” and went back to bed)!
The reddish color is a result of the Moon traveling perfectly behind the middle of the Earth while the Earth itself is eclipsing the Sun. When the Earth blocks the Sun, the Earth’s atmosphere begins glowing bright orange from the Sun’s “backlighting.”. It’s this deep orange “Blood” color that we see during a Total Lunar Eclipse. (I found this excellent web page with great pictures and explanations that helped it all make better sense to me. Give it a look!)
The other bright object next to the Moon last night was the blue star, Spica, the largest star of the Virgo constellation.
If you missed last night’s show in your area, fear not! It’s set for a repeat performance on October 8th, 2014, and again a couple times in 2015. After that, we won’t see any more Blood Moons until 2032!
Finally, I am happy to report that as of noontime today, the snow still visible on the Winnie and on my patio table this morning has now melted. We now resume our regularly-scheduled Springtime programming!