We watched the start of tonight’s/this morning’s lunar eclipse from the sidewalk in front of the house. A couple of neighbors came out to see the moon starting to enter the Earth’s shadow — but the show was a little misty and it looked like things would get more overcast as the eclipse progressed. About 25 minutes or so before the total phase was to begin, the moon was all but invisible down here at 120 feet above sea level. But the weather forecast had suggested that the marine layer, the band of atmosphere influenced most by the moisture coming in from the ocean (and thus foggy), might be just 1,500 feet deep. Grizzly Peak Boulevard, the main road through the Berkeley Hills, tops out at just below 1,700 feet — so I thought the sky might be clear, or at least clearer, up there.
We drove up, and as we wound up the road south past the city limits and above the University of California campus, ascending above 1,000 feet, more and more cars appeared. There are a few small parking areas as the road nears its summit, and those were full of cars. Soon, we were passing cars that were only pulled halfway off the pavement. Hundreds of people were up at the top of the hills at midnight watching the eclipse.
We pulled into the parking lot for the Tilden Park steam trains just as totality began. It was kind of a cool moment: We could hear people cheering and howling up at the moon from all around. A true Berkeley sky party. We stayed up in the parking lot — which had a great view and just a handful of people watching — for about an hour before heading back down. There were still dozens of cars up along the road — the partiers and die-hards watching the moon return from the dark.
(That bright star in the pictures, to the right of the moon — it’s Spica, the principal star of the constellation Virgo).