To say the least, I’d be flattering myself to even whisper the words ASTRONOMER and CRITIC anywhere in the vicinity of my birth-name… even after qualifying / clarifying those proper nouns with adjectives such as RANK and AMATEUR.
And far be it from me to negatively critique a lunar eclipse… one of Ma Nature’s most magnificent performances… BUT… this time out… as far as I was concerned… her show was playing out in a crappy venue… in spite of the atypically (for a Michigan winter) clear skies.
Unlike my past experiences of this nature, I’d categorize last night’s total eclipse a total bust.
Many moons ago, I had derived far more enjoyment from watching Earth’s nearest celestial neighbor setting just as the eclipse had achieved totality. True, I had been booted from “The Theatre” long before the start of “Act II: The return to Full Phase” but half a “show” had been better than none.
And speaking of none… last night’s problems had arisen right from the get-go. The temperature had already plummeted to 0° F / -18° C… with the wind chill factor only making matters worse. By eclipse end the predicted temps would be tanking out at -7° F / -22° C.
Adding to this meteorological misery was the viewing angle. With the Moon at the zenith, it didn’t take long for this to become a (literal) pain in the neck. My in-advance awareness of this positioning problem was the precise reason that I hadn’t even bothered lugging out my 90mm telescope (I mean who’d even want to crouch down even closer to the recently fallen, thick, cold blanket of snow?)
Anyway… long sigh… with my three layers of clothing (inclusive of a thick down parka, lined gloves, long-johns and winter boots) still proving inadequate… with self-preservation mode constantly kicking in full force, I found myself needing to return (frequently) to the not-so-great indoors to warm up. And that need is at the crux of this negative review.
While I cannot speak for everyone… I found what was really missing was that uninterrupted dramatic build up towards totality. It’s kind of like leaving the movie theater to go buy popcorn and returning just as the protagonist… just in the nick of time… heroically saves the day. In other words…
My needing to repeatedly rejoin this eclipse in progress ruined the mood. Even timing it out to return at the precise moment of totality presented new problems. At that juncture, my eyes were no longer accustomed to the dark. Adding to my woes was how the overhang of my parka’s hood was constantly blocking my line of sight. Try dodging that while attempting to relocate the directly overhead Moon, now darkened by the Earth’s shadow. As for “losing” the hood? Yeah, right… just what I needed… frostbitten ears. Need I say more?
Orienting my head back into its default position and glumly swaying it side to side, once again the cold proved too much. Now back indoors and reclining on my sofa, head resting comfortably, I dozed off and didn’t wake up until long after the “Super Wolf Blood Moon Lunar Eclipse of 2019” had ended.
All in all… at least in my neck of the woods… very little to howl at!