- Education and Science
Eclipse of a life time
Old man moon
Peering up into the clear, flawless, Night sky, on this cool December night, a bright almost florescent moon peers back at me. Southern nights are known for that wonderful old guardian of the night sky, but this is not just any moon, this my friend, is a Mississippi Moon. Keeping watch by night over the "belle of the south" and her beautiful gulf coast.
Mississippians are by nature a proud lot, (regardless of what you might have heard) they take pride in their food, music, and almost everything else. Yes Mississippians are even proud of their moon! It has been their friend and companion for centuries, and has helped them make Mississippi the great state that she is. In the spring her moon comes up large and low and has an almost orange color at dusk, in the old days the farmers used her light to plant by and thus the spring moon became known as the Planter's moon. In the summer her moon rides high in the sky and is a welcome guest at many a Barbecue, camp out, or fishing spot. Then in late summer and into the fall, the old watchman hovers low to the ground and lights the fields long into the night; lighting the way for the weary farmer to reap the benefits of his bountiful harvest. This my friend is loving known as the "Harvest moon" and has been a helping hand not only to farmers but has spawn a dance or two as well. Lastly there is the winter moon, or "cold moon" as it's sometimes called, when this moon showers it southern glow, one can't help but think about a manger and a baby from long, long, ago. Yes no matter what time of year it is Mississippi's moon is always something special, but tonight's moon even more special than usual there hasn't been one like it in almost 400 years.
Solstice Lunar Eclipse
Most Lunar Eclipses draw little attention and pass almost unnoticed for the most part, but every once in a while, all the contributing factors line up just right to make a "once in a lifetime event." This year we will see the first Lunar Eclipse to take place during a winter solstice in 374 years. The last time this happened was the mid 17th century when Galileo was a prisoner in his own home, ordered there by the pope, for telling the world that the sun was the center of the universe and not the earth.
One reason this eclipse is so special is because it takes place on the eve of the winter solstice, the time when the earth is the furthest from the sun, December, 21st. December 21st is not only the beginning of the winter solstice but is also the shortest day of the year. This year it is being ushered in under a blushing moon, or the "blood moon" as some call it. I have heard old southern wives tales that this is the fulfilling of the bible scripture which reads,
Joel 2:31 (KJV)
31 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come.
Some of the old folks proclaimed it as a sign of the end of the world, while others believed was a terrible omen which foretold of some great calamity that was coming upon the earth. Then there were others who believed that the death angel was loosed and murder was afoot thus they would stay up all night long passing the night praying for the evil to pass. In some towns and cities, as well as a many homes great bonfires were built and maintained through the night to wart away the "evil doers".
Thankfully these red nemesis only show up every few hundred years, which is good for our sake since it tends to throw some into a panic. As far as the mayhem that it is accredited for bringing, there are no confirmed reports of it causing major catastrophes, or even one tragedy for that matter. However since the holidays do bring a sharp spike in crime it would be difficult to tell if the red moon was a contributor or not.
A wonderful phenomenon
if you missed the Lunar eclipse, there will be another one in 2014, but there won't be another red Lunar eclipse for another 84 years. Remember tomorrow will be the shortest day of the year so be sure and enjoy the short day and the long night.
Regardless of it's reputation and all the myths and legends surrounding it, I think you will agree that this bashful moon is a wonderful phenomenon, and I feel priviledged to be able to experience it. Since this only happens every few hundred years I took the liberty to take lots of pictures to show my children's children. The Lord works in mysterious ways, his glory to behold. So let us feel blessed to be able to experience this great miracle of God. After all how often do you get to see the moon blush?