Well, just under over three hours to T-Time. T for totality. The sky is clear but a little smoky here. Off to the north, a bank of high clouds is visible. Is it headed this way?
From the final, very complete forecast discussion published at 2:48 a.m. by the Riverton office of the National Weather Service:
“… Natrona county, including Casper, will lie within the other good area to view the eclipse as it will likely be mostly clear and sunny to begin the day with high clouds not making it into the County until after totality, through the afternoon. There is also one additional caveat to this astronomical event – smoke cover. The forecast area will see another frontal push through the area later this morning perhaps bringing in more wildfire smoke and causing or continuing some visibility decrease (keeping the sky a bit hazy side even without the clouds). Again, none of these factors will keep the eclipse from being viewed – but may somewhat limit how it/what can
be seen around the eclipse itself…especially near/at totality. On the other hand, the colors associated with this kind of filtering could be quite dramatic.”
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).
This morning’s lunar eclipse, shot across the roof of a house across the street. Not many this morning trod the frosty street, to paraphrase Dylan Thomas, but when Kate and I went out to watch, about 6 o’clock, we heard voices of a couple of neighbors down the block. So we had a small viewing party, five of of us in all plus The Dog, conducted (for me) without the intervention of caffeine. Now we’re back indoors, the sun’s coming up, and I’m going back to bed.
Here’s the slideshow, with good shots and bad and a few that put the one above in neighborhood context:
It’s been cloudy most of the day here, creating some minor suspense about whether tonight’s eclipse will be visible.
Well, at least the start of it is–despite appearances, the shot above is through some high clouds. No telling when the thicker cloud cover will return. The shot immediately below: a few minutes later, as the clouds got a little thicker. And the last, about an hour after the first, and just a few minutes before the eclipse was supposed to enter it’s “total” stage. Thing is–down here in the Berkeley flatlands, anyway, that’s when the clouds really moved in. I have to be up early, so no late-night moongazing to see if it re-emerges.