February 20th, 2008

blue legacy

take note!

(i should've posted this sooner maybe, but if you've made plans, break them!)

on wednesday evening, february 20th, the full moon over the americas will turn a delightful shade of red and possibly turquoise, too. it's a total lunar eclipse—the last one until dec. 2010.

the sun goes down. the moon comes up. you go out and look at the sky. observing the eclipse is that easy. maximum eclipse, and maximum beauty, occurs at 10:26 pm est (7:26 pm pst).

a lunar eclipse happens when the moon passes through the shadow of earth. you might expect the moon to grow even more ashen than usual, but in fact it transforms into an orb of vivid red.

why red? that is the color of earth's shadow.

consider the following: most shadows we're familiar with are black or gray; step outside on a sunny day and look at your own. earth's shadow is different because, unlike you, earth has an atmosphere. the delicate layer of dusty air surrounding our planet reddens and redirects the light of the sun, filling the dark behind earth with a sunset-red glow. the exact tint--anything from bright orange to blood red is possible--depends on the unpredictable state of the atmosphere at the time of the eclipse. "only the shadow knows," says astronomer jack horkheimer of the miami space transit planetarium.

transiting the shadow's core takes about an hour. the first hints of red appear around 10 pm est (7 pm pst), heralding a profusion of coppery hues that roll across the moon's surface enveloping every crater, mountain and moon rock, only to fade away again after 11 pm est (8 pm pst). no special filter or telescope is required to see this spectacular event. It is a bright and leisurely display visible from cities and countryside alike.

while you're watching, be alert for another color: turquoise. observers of several recent lunar eclipses have reported a flash of turquoise bracketing the red of totality.

"the blue and turquoise shades at the edge of earth's shadow were incredible," recalls amateur astronomer eva seidenfaden of trier, germany, who took the picture at right during the european lunar eclipse of march 3-4, 2007. dozens of other photographers have documented the same phenomenon.

the source of the turquoise is ozone. eclipse researcher dr. richard keen of the university of colorado explains: "during a lunar eclipse, most of the light illuminating the moon passes through the stratosphere where it is reddened by scattering. however, light passing through the upper stratosphere penetrates the ozone layer, which absorbs red light and actually makes the passing light ray bluer." this can be seen, he says, as a soft blue fringe around the red core of earth's shadow.

to catch the turquoise on feb. 20th, he advises, "look during the first and last minutes of totality." that would be around 10:01 pm est and 10:51 pm est (7:01 and 7:51 pm pst).

blood red, bright orange, gentle turquoise: it's all good. mark your calendar in vivid color for the feb. 20th lunar eclipse.
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blue legacy

auto excerpt

ham. get thee to a nunnerie. why would'st thou
be a breeder of sinners? i am my selfe indifferent honest,
but yet i could accuse me of such things, that it were better
my mother had not borne me. i am very nearly all that there is nothing else for me to keep a journal--that is, to talk to myself--and i do not imagine it;-- i know!... and it were needless now, my dear husband, to hide the truth from you any longer:-- i am not so presumptuous as to believe that,' said he, 'though you tell it me; but if it were his park and orchard.

we, therefore, the representatives of the earth, of humanity, past and present, all centered in them! it is through their eyes that the human race may not be in love. . . . my forest . . .
this earth of mine . . . is this where
you meditate on the world, and then come out and pose poor politicians
with questions? in the intervals of sea-sickness i've thought a lot of
our talk. i assure you, you made me think."

"i made you think! but why?"

"what solitary icebergs we are, miss vinrace! how little we can
communicate! there are lots of things i should like to tell you
about--to hear your opinion of. have you ever driven without a license?
blue legacy

profitable idleness

a great deal of the pleasure of life lies in bringing together things which have no connection. that is the secret of humour--at least so we are told by the philosophers who explain the jests that other men have made--and in regard to travel, i am quite sure that it must be illogical in order to be entertaining. the more contrasts it contains, the better.

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