Early this morning we experienced a very special event. It was the winter solstice, and it was ushered in by a lunar eclipse. The event occurs very commonly during the winter, having happened 3 times in the last decade. However, it is incredibly rare to happen on the winter solstice. In fact the event’s last occurrence was almost 400 years ago.
I was particularly excited because as I got home from working my night job, I noticed that the sky was as clear as could be. There was not a cloud in the sky to obscure the event. I knew I would be awake too. I am a bit of a night-owl.
I turned off all the lights in my house, and set up my equipment out on the deck. I first tried to take some pictures, but my little camera just made the moon look like a small sun, and the eclipse wasn’t visible. I wouldn’t be deterred however, I had another weapon in my arsenal to try. I mounted my video camera on the tripod and proceeded to shoot some footage.
At first, my efforts were similar to those with the camera. A big white blob. However, with some patience and some tweaking on the video camera, I was able to sharpen the feed into something pretty interesting. Now, mind you the footage is obviously amateur, but it still shows some pretty good images.
As I was working on this, I kept thinking this would be great to share with someone at that moment. Of course at almost 2 o’clock in the morning, everyone else in the house was sound asleep. I crept into our bedroom something like three times to awaken my wife to view the event. I thought better of it each time though, thinking she would rather sleep than look at the moon. The next morning she hit me with the “Why didn’t you wake me up?” question. I should have known.
I also pondered waking my oldest daughter up. She has a blossoming interest in astronomy, and would surely love this. I went to her door a couple of times and then changed my mind. It was a school night after all, and she needed her sleep. A friend online clarified my thinking on the matter when they said that this event hasn’t happened in almost 400 years, and they would wake their children for that. That galvanized my decision to get her up for this.
I crept into her room hoping I was quiet enough not to wake her little sister whom she shares a room with. Well that notion lasted all of three seconds as I tripped on the multitude of toys they had all over the floor. After adjusting her blanket the little one fell back to sleep, and I awakened the older daughter to see the event. She was a little confused and unsure of what was going on at first. She tried to go outside with no coat and bare foot in the crisp night. I gently reminded her that it was now winter time after all. She smiled and pulled on some boots and her coat and we went outside together.
The look on her face made it instantly worth it. She had that look of wonder, and I immediately knew I made the right decision. We were only outside together for maybe five minutes or so (it was still a school night after all), but it was a moment that I will treasure forever. It was a bonding moment, and I just love those. So I have to thank the cosmos for giving that special gift to me in the crisp early morning hours of December.
- Night owls glimpse rare lunar eclipse on same day as winter solstice (theglobeandmail.com)
- “Winter Solstice+Full Moon+Lunar Eclipse=Epic Awesomeness” and related posts (yogadork.com)
- Lunar eclipse, winter solstice set for Tuesday – Washington Post (news.google.com)
- Lunar eclipse on winter solstice first in 372 years (ctv.ca)