Total Eclipse-Feb 2008

Polluted-eclipseThere is little to compare with the emotions evoked by a lunar eclipse. One can set out to witness one of these events with a group of friends or join a host of spectators on a hilltop lookout but I prefer to go solo.
On 21 February 2008 I packed my gear, camera, binocs, coffee, chocolates and…. coffee into my 1956 VW Beetle in which I felt least likely to be hi-jacked and headed for Blouberg Strand which has a magnificent view of Cape Town’s Table Mountain. Although I like solo, I felt a need to be close to other people just for safety’s sake.
The eclipse had been widely publicized and I was expecting a crowd of onlookers on the beach and on the balconies of apartments. It was past midnight and the beach was dark and deserted. It felt a little creepy. I parked in a parking bay opposite an apartment block where there was still some activity but one by one the shutters closed and the lights went out. This was extreme solo. After giving my details and reasons for being there to a security guy and chatting to a hooker who had just taken a drunk client back to his apartment, I settled in to prepare for the eclipse.
At 03:13 I noticed the first slight darkening towards the top right limb of the Moon. From then on it was just me on Mother Earth and she had all intention of casting her shadow on the Moon as they silently progressed in their respective orbits. My emotions started building up. I scanned through all the events of my life. My camera was set up with a remote shutter release and I just clicked away, adjusting exposures as the Moon darkened. At 03:43 I could see a definite shadow and the chapters of my life closed one by one. I glanced over my shoulder to see if someone in the apartment block had set an alarm clock.
At 04:55 with only a slither of bright Moon visible, I noticed a ruddiness creep over the whole surface of the Moon. I felt connected to all my friends, witnessing the event from other locations. The eclipsed part of the Moon turned a rusty orange. I do not think I have seen a more beautiful sight. The security car approached and the guy gave me a thumbs up. I acknowledged the gesture. It was almost daybreak and I headed home before the early morning traffic. Close to home I stopped and caught one last glimpse of the eclipsed Moon through heavy city pollution.

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