The longest blood lunar eclipse of the century is ending. I’ve always looked at the moon. The moon and the stars. My Dad was a telescope nut. Still is. In 11th grade he built a telescope and took it all the way to the national science fair. Growing up I looked through that 8 inch reflecting telescope many nights.
The moon, Saturn, Jupiter, Venus, Mars, comets, anything celestial we watched. At 4 am he would wake us and drag us across the street to Uncle Jimmy’s yard, the highest point in town, where we’d lay out on lawn chairs, towels, or just the dewy grass and watch meteor showers twice a year. Sometimes more.
I always look for a flag. You can’t see them. Even if they weren’t bleached out from decades of ultraviolet radiation. I still look. I found an online aerial map of the moon, browsable, a Google Earth for our satellite if you will. Excitedly I looked up the latitude and longitude of my favorite mission, Apollo 17. I zoomed and panned, zoomed and panned and finally got to the spot. It was fuzzy resolution but you can make out the legs of the lunar module, the flag is kind of visible but no details, there are spots of equipment and tracks foot and buggy. Happy and content I sat back and clicked a few other controls where I stumbled upon the button that turned on the highlight locations. Such as the lunar landings. Nerd that I am I did it the hard way.
So tonight I did my other long standing tradition. As the trailing edge of the earth removes its shadow from the moon I looked to see features. Someone walking around, waving, or maybe just a building, a mountain, anything. But alas it is not there. Somewhere along the level of flags are the wistful dreams of seeing an earthen feature shadowed on the lunar surface.
There wasn’t one tonight. Only the wispy waves of atmospheric interference. And now the eclipse is all but over. No more opportunities to see. But I’ll be back. I’ll look again. Until I get to see the shadow of a tree.