Lunar Eclipse, Dec. 10th, 2011 Turret Arch, Arches National Park @ Moab, Utah
Memories are awkward I've decided. They can trigger emotions and reflection on events that have long sense passed. I also believe their meaning changes as we gain deeper insight to our lives as we mature and get older. One of my first and fondest memories is of the February 10th, 1971 Total Lunar Eclipse. I remember this for several reasons. First, it was my older sister's birthday and she turned 8 that day. Next, I remember going to bed in my pajamas and then my Mom and Dad waking us up to look at the moon. My Dad had a little Tasco spotting scope set up but we didn't look through it more then a couple of times. What I do remember is watching the color of the moon change. That has stuck with me for over 40 years. The togetherness of a family, parents trying to instill an interest in their children in science and finally getting tired and falling asleep again and being carried and tucked in by my Dad before the lunar eclipse ended have always made me nostalgic during lunar eclipses.
This morning, I am sure like many of you, I got up and simply put on some warm clothes and headed out to an area that allowed me a good view of the western horizon. Where I live, there are mountains to the east and west so the moon was falling fast. I was alone this time, and observed the lunar eclipse and thought it was rather a nice one. I had thought of sketching the moment, but this time I simply wanted the memory. I'll write it down here in case as I age the memory floats away or can't be accessed, which seems to be happening a little bit more as I enter into my late 40's. At this time, I thought of my older sister, my mother and my father and a smile came to my face and an inner warmth filled me. I'm glad my parents gave me an interest in astronomy, and saddened I didn't pursue it until an adult and at a time that is perhaps too late to change a career path, but I find such joy and relaxation in the hobby that as I watched the eclipse this a.m., I gave a thanks to parents who planted a seed that eventually bloomed. As I age, I find it amusing to see what an impact my parents truly have had on my life. That scares me also as my own two are almost 19 and 18 and whatever impact I've had, for good or bad (and yes, we do both as parents, being the imperfect people we are influence in both ways; then again, I'm glad for imperfections, they make life interesting and fun!) is on them. I wonder in 30 years what my own two kids will reflect on our relationship and what memories they'll choose to recall and which ones will be triggered by events that occur around them?
So as we enter a season of giving, I hope perhaps, we each can remember those who have given gifts not of monetary value, but of lasting gifts, gifts that impact the human mind and heart, that inspire us to reach beyond ourselves, and to be better at whatever we do. For me that was the gift Luna gave to me this morning. The good news is that new moon phase is coming and I sure hope a storm clears out the muck/pollution/smog here in northern Utah and then gives us a good five days or so of excellent seeing conditions.
Edit: Please check out these images from a gallery called Moon Games. I think this is very clever. I found the initial post on Bad Astronomy.