Washington Evening Journal

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Nov 25, 2017

Tracks and Tales: Lunar Events

By Pamela Holz | Dec 02, 2011

To say I am not a morning person is a massive understatement. At this time of year, I can get away with saying I don’t believe in getting up before the sun. I am still working on a valid excuse for the summer.

So when I scheduled a program for the wee morning hours of Dec. 10, my co-workers were much amused. However, I have a couple of valid reasons for doing so. A) I’ve been wanting to do this type of a program for awhile and either had schedule conflicts or learned about it too late. And B) while it’s not a once-in-a-lifetime event, the next such occasion won’t take place for us till 2014.

I am speaking about the upcoming total lunar eclipse.

See, one of my favorite memories revolves around an eclipse in my younger years (I have elected to not print the year). A group of us had been staying and working for a week in the far north of Minnesota. During a lunar eclipse, we were invited to view it at a local observatory – big telescope and all. Afterward, we canoed back to our camp under the Northern Lights. It may be my best “at peace” moment.

This past summer, I learned about the June lunar eclipse a day too late (didn’t matter, we were overcast). But the info on it also mentioned the next one: in the early morning hours of Dec. 10. That actually gave me time to schedule and plan for it. As well as time to wonder if it would work.

First I had to translate the time for the eclipse (listed as Universal Time or UT) to Central Standard (figuring it out while still under daylight saving and, like mornings, math is not my strong suit). The time came out to 5:30 a.m. Ugh.

The second issue is that we don’t get to see all of it. Between the sun rising and the moon setting, the Midwest is not the best location for this eclipse. Technically, we should be able to see most of it, but that does not take into account poor viewing as the moon descends to the horizon and the sun’s light filtering up before it actually rises.

Third, it’s December. And that means cold.

Hmm. Well, probably the best viewing at Marr Park would be behind (to the west) of the center. The center, then, would easily provide a respite from the cold as well as hot cocoa (probably the best part of winter).

I could dig up the telescope in storage so we can better enjoy what we see – an extra enticement. Thus we’d make the most of our limited time.

As for dealing with early mornings …. I’ll just plan on a nap later that day.

OK, my bases are covered, now all I need is for you to show up. I myself will be dragging at least one of my kids with me (the other one is a teen and waking them up too early can be hazardous to one’s health).

Any questions, let me know at 319/657-2400 or wccbnaturalist@iowatelecom.net.


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