Ramblings about what I encounter within the realm of the geosciences, as well as the occasional rant about nonsense.

21 December 2010

Something Ate the Moon

Last night North America had the king seats for a total lunar eclipse. These astronomical phenomena hold a special place in the history of science as a whole. In ancient Greece, Aristarchus was observing a lunar eclipse when he realized that as the shadow crept across the face of the moon, it was in the shape of an arc, not a straight line. He then posited that this meant that the Earth itself was curved (since the Earth is what must be casting the shadow). Furthermore, this observation helped Aristarchus come to the realization that the Earth is not the center of our solar system, but rather the Earth must orbit the Sun. All this was discovered centuries before Copernicus and Galileo. The ancient Greeks were even able to estimate for the relative sizes and distances of the Earth, the Moon, and the Sun. While we are much more precise with our modern techniques, Aristarchus was on the right path.

With that said, last night I went out and took some pictures of the lunar eclipse. These aren't the greatest of pictures since my SLR and telescope are packed away right now and all I had available was my camera I use for basic photography in the field. However, you will clearly be able to see the curvature of the Earth as the shadow moves over the surface of the moon. [note: I just realized that you cannot enlarge the photos by clicking on them. I will see if I can remedy this. Apparently, Blogger shrunk them all down to 400x300. I will probably just have to break down and subscribe to a photo hosting site to fix this]

Below is a shot of the eclipse just as it was starting.

Below it has progressed a little bit further.

And below shows it further still

Around about this time, I wasn't getting the eclipsed portion of the moon very clearly so I toyed around with the shutter speed and got the image below. Both the image above and below are at about the same point during the eclipse. The lower picture shows the eclipsed poritions of the moon and washes out the little sliver yet to be eclipsed.

Below shows the eclipse in near totality.

And here was the last decent shot I got of the event last night.

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All the Latin on this page is from my vague recollections from High School. There are mistakes in the text. I just was trying to get the point across

Between Los Alamos,NM and White Rock, NM

Between Los Alamos,NM and White Rock, NM
The photo of the travertine spring was taken in the small opening in the center of the image.

Lectio Liber