I went to bed slightly early last night, but first I set my alarm for 4:45 a.m. Central. As I noted a couple of days ago, I wanted to get up early to observe a total lunar eclipse. As usually happens, I woke up early at 4:15 a.m. Who needs an alarm?
I decided to go ahead and throw on my clothes, grab my purse and smartphone and take the van to Dillons to fill it up. While I drove west (one mile) and north (two miles), I noted that the full moon was already missing a good chunk in the upper left-hand quadrant. After filling up the van, I continued west on Eisenhower Road, crossing Tonganoxie Road and heading up over the ridge. I crossed over 187th street, leaving the paved roads behind and continued until I was forced to turn left at 195th street, just south of an electrical substation (talk about light pollution out in the middle of no where). I continued south until I dipped down behind a hill just enough to shield me from said substation. I pulled the van over slightly into a field access driveway and turned it off.
From this secluded, quiet and mostly dark spot on 195th street, I could still see much of the lights of Kansas City to the southeast. In fact, I could see the large well lit water tower that sits at the Legends. I saw the tall flashing lights of various radio towers, including the one at Signal Hill in midtown Kansas City. To the east I could see the glow of the runway lights at KCI. But to the west, all was darkness. The moon continued to be devoured by the Earth’s shadow for the next hour or so, gradually turning ruddier and darker.
Then, just as the last tiny sliver of bright moon was slipping into the shadow, clouds crept in from the northwest. No! Not now! Just when it was getting really interesting!
I hung around for a few minutes, enjoying the rest of the clear skies. I could easily see all of Orion hanging high in the south and followed closely on his heels by Canis Major. Taurus and the Pleiades hung high in the southwest. To the north, I could actually see all the stars of Ursa Minor (aka the Little Dipper) which is a very rare treat. Even when I’m down at the ASKC‘s Powell Observatory, I can’t see but three stars of the Little Dipper, thanks to the incredible light pollution of the entire Kansas City metro area spread out over the northern horizon.
The Big Dipper was rising in the northeast with Cassiopeia bracketing Polaris on the opposite side in the northwest. I even spied a few shooting stars during the ninety minutes I stood outside the van on a gravel road between empty fields on this calm Kansas night.
I could hear cars driving by on 187th street and Tonganoxie Road to my east. I heard several dogs barking, lots of crickets and frogs and as the moon disappeared, many coyotes howling and yipping. Thankfully, no skunks decided to pay me a visit and the deer must have been taking a nap.
At 5:35 a.m. I gave up on the clouds moving out. I needed to get back home and get dressed for work. While I brewed my morning tea, I stepped out on my back patio and took this photo of the eclipsed moon:
You’ll have to excuse my grainy photos above as all I have to work with is my smartphone. Once my dad sends me some of his photos from his session this morning, I will share a couple of those photos here as well. So check back later.
Meanwhile, Earthsky is gathering the ‘Best Photos’ for this eclipse at this website: http://earthsky.org/todays-image/see-it-best-photos-of-october-8-total-lunar-eclipse
I hope you had an opportunity to see this amazing astronomical event. I had a grand time observing this lunar eclipse.