It has been about two weeks since I stood there on top of the highest mountain in the San Francisco Bay Area, Mount Hamilton. In the last couple of months I have been up there three times. Twice in the evenings after sunset as a visitor to the Lick Observatory. In the summer the observatory has a great program with lectures and they open up two of the many telescopes and give normal folks like us the chance to look deep into the universe to see the past. My third trip was for the rising of this full moon. It was dubbed a “Super Moon” because it was a full moon at perigee. Perigee is the point in the moon’s orbit where it is closest to the Earth. This causes the moon to appear larger than normal, for this moon it was 14% larger than normal.
The light that evening was subtle. It is that kind of light that I think is very awe inspiring because it forces us to look at the essence of objects rather than the flash and glitz that comes with bright and saturated colorful light. Most people do not give this subtle light a second glance let alone really looking.
Further, with such an event as the “Super Moon” where many people world round go out with the intent of photographing it, the moon goes unnoticed. The hype that surrounds the “Super Moon” is just that, Hype. When you see a full moon rising it is usually quite dim as it pops out above the horizon shrouded in haze and pollution. It is lack luster and even that evening it came up fairly unnoticed. As I stood there on the mountain there might have been about 4 or 5 other people there as well trying to photograph it, and had I not said out loud “There it is!” most might have missed its rising.
For me however the sad part of the story is that no more than 10 minutes after it rose, it ducked behind a cloud bank and we list it for about 20 minutes. Once it did reappear, it was to bright and the sky was too dark to make any decent photos with it and the Earth.
In a few short days I will be going out again for the new moon, something even fewer people notice. What is so enticing about all this? The light. It simply amazes me how light can travel so far so quickly bringing information from these distant objects about what they are. Light is all around us. We are engulfed in it all the time and yet we rarely realize it because it is invisible until some of it goes into our eyes. Why those particular photos went in and not some others is a question that has no real answer. But I do know that none were for no reason. Every photon zipping through the universe that end up in your eyes were destined for your eyes and your eyes alone. No other eye in the universe will “see” the photons you see and as soon as you see them they vanish forever. Now that is awesome.
Till next time, Peace.