Last Night’s Amazing, Once In a Half Dozen Lifetimes Eclipse

Once in 400 years we get a lunar eclipse like the one last night. And if you’re like me you missed it. Now you can watch it online!

I missed the eclipse last night.

Not on purpose, but rather because the LA area has been hit with some serious and unseasonable rain, which kept the skies way too cloudy to see a damn thing. I live right next to the Griffith Park Observatory and I would have been up there basking in celestial majesty if I could have seen anything. One of  my best memories is standing in Flushing Meadow Park late at night, looking at the streak of Halley’s Comet through a medium powered telescope. Looking into the sky and seeing the evidence of the stunning dance of planets and suns, the pull of gravity and the play of orbits, is a thrill that makes science seem all the cooler.

Maybe you didn’t see it either. Maybe you had to go to bed, or maybe it was cloudy by you. The eclipse last night was the first in 400 years that took place on the winter solstice; besides being a superstitious convergence of events it also meant the moon was at its highest point in the sky, making it easy to see. And at one point it turned a spooky blood red!

One of my friends on Twitter said that watching the eclipse made it easy to understand why people used to place so much significance on these events; the sudden order of things is thrown out of wack and an ominous and strange event happens to one of the most reliable celestial bodies. It’s scary and awe-inspiring and cool.

Here’s a time lapse video of the event, which I found via Geekologie. You might want to kill the sound.

Winter Solstice Lunar Eclipse from William Castleman on Vimeo.