Lesson #263: The Lunar Eclipse

I watched a program on the History Channel last week about solar eclipses and how because Earth’s moon is roughly 400,000 km from Earth and the sun is roughly 400x the distance from the Earth to the moon, it creates a unique  situation (in our solar system at least, though possibly in our galaxy) that allows for complete solar eclipses. This is actually (mostly) unimportant except to prove that I learned something interesting even though I’m not posting because of the dire computer situation.

Anyway, this early morning was the first full lunar eclipse in nearly three years.* By happenstance, it is also the first eclipse to happen on the winter solstice since 1638. So I stayed up and watched. Its peak was at 3:17am my time, which is still peak time for me to be awake. Lunar eclipses, it turns out, all kind of look the same. Not that they’re not awesome. Just that at one point, I actually thought, “it would be very strange to see the whole moon blow up right now.”

Seriously though, the concept is awesome. One massive body suspended in space gets between the sun and another massive body suspended in space and casts a shadow on the first. And that’s pretty cool. It was not red or anything, like I was informed it might be (though admittedly that was dependent on the amount of particles in the atmosphere), which was somewhat disappointing, but it was still cool.**

A bit of personal business: a happy end of semester to Drs. B., C., M., and O’. Dr. B. had a student conveniently forget to cite sources for his (or her) term paper*** and was beating his head against his desk last week, Dr. C. had a student fail to cite a source for a research paper because “all of this is my opinion”, and Dr. M.’s wife (my old college roommate) had their first baby on the 4th, which is very exciting for everyone, including me who gets to buy baby S. all my favourite children’s books.

*And to my frustration, one of the girls I went to college with — though in fairness, she didn’t last past our first semester — posted two hours before peak that she had been waiting her whole life to see an eclipse (what?) and it was “the most amazing sight ever.” SERIOUSLY?!? This makes me question your ability to read anything. EVERYTHING I read stated prominently that 3:17 am was peak on the East Coast. And I get that it’s cool, I really do. Because it is. But you’ve been waiting your whole life? You’re 30 years old. Since you were 20, you’ve had AT LEAST three other opportunities.

**For more, see:  NASA, space.com, the BBC and CBC.

***As I understand it the conversation went something like this: “Well, I guess I forgot to cite my sources.” “Well, I guess you fail.” Before I knew his response, I actually asked him with a fair amount of incredulity, “for the whole paper?” I simply do not understand how, having been taught to cite things since grade 7, anyone could simply forget to include citations over the course of 20 pages.

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One thought on “Lesson #263: The Lunar Eclipse

  1. Angie says:

    Sadly, the eclipse wasn’t visible in Budapest- something about when the moon rises and sets or something (once I realized I couldn’t see it I stopped paying attention to why).

    Oh, also you HAVE to email and tell me who was “waiting her whole life” for the eclipse.

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