Watching the Super Lunar Eclipse

People in the moonlight at Pico de La Cruz, La Palma, waiting for the eclipse
Our group at Pico de La Cruz before the eclipse




Well, I saw it! It was cloudy at low altitudes, so I was glad I’d joined the bus going up to Pico de La Cruz with a group of about 16 people from Astrofest. Since buses get a lot more expensive after midnight, the organiser was persuaded to have the bus drop us off shortly after 11 pm, so it would be “home” by midnight, even though it meant a longer wait.

It was cold, and the three jumpers I’d brought along to loan we’re gratefully snapped up. So we looked at the constellations (a bit washed out in the light of the supermoon) and chatted for a while. Then, since the wind was cold, we hunkered down behind rocks wrapped up as best we could. I had three jumpers, a sleeping bag and an exercise mat underneath for insulation, so I was fairly comfortable apart from the rocks pocking into my back and butt. I watched the moon, with ocassional clouds zipping past it at great speed (meaning they weren’t much above me.) Sometimes the moon had the most beautiful rainbow around it.

The trouble was, I got lonely, since there was nobody near enough to talk to. So I went to join a group. The chat was lovely, but now I waqs right inthe wind and suddenly three jumpers and a sleeping bag was nowhere near enough. Worse, the wind grabbed the exercise mat and blew it into the Caldera. So I went back to my previous spot, only this time without the exercise mat.

And then the clouds really blew in and the temperature plummetted. I was told to evacuate, so I did.

We went to the observatory, just a little higher, and finally saw the eclipse from there.

I was amazed how much darker it was during totality. Three thousand stars came out to join the party, and we had to be careful about lights because the MAGIC telescope was working – normally they have to stop at full moon.

The moon was quite high in the sky, so I found it hard to get a photo. It needed some serious contortions to look through the view-finder at the moon. But I did it. It’s nowhere near professional standard, but it’s mine and it makes me happy. (You should see some of the professional photos!)

And then we had breakfast at the observatory hotel and went home to bed.

The last “supermoon eclipse” was in 1982, and the next will be in 2033, so I’m really glad I caught it.

The lunar eclipse of 28/09/2015 from La Palma. Credit: Sheila Crosby
My own photo of the eclipse

Posted by sheila

Sheila came to La Palma with a six month contract and has stayed 24 years so far. She used to work as a software engineer at the observatory, but now she's a writer and Starlight guide.

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