THE NIGHT OF THREE MIRACLES
By MICHAEL PERKINS
I NEARLY MISSED OUT. Early last evening, my wife spied an internet article on the imminent arrival of what could only be called an astronomical trifecta, a moon which, for the first time since 1866 would qualify as a wow in three distinct cosmological categories, as an oversized, or “super” moon, a lunar eclipse, and an orange-red “blood moon”, seen to fullest effect in America’s western states.
Hey, I live in one of those……
I’ll be out in the driveway, honey. For, oh, I dunno, a while….
The first, or supermoon phase of the trifecta I had experienced several times before: lunar light strong enough to read by, with time exposures of three minutes, or even less, retrieving a full range of natural color in everything from orange roof tiles to blue skies…..hours after sunset. That’s what you see up top. A manual 35mm lens (the shutter remote won’t work with autofocus, anyway), an aperture of f/5.6 for fair depth of field, and the flat top of a mailbox for a makeshift tripod and, bingo, it looks like early dusk instead of 10pm.
The second phase had to wait for the early hours of this morning, at which time various web accounts predicted the earth would interpose itself perfectly between the sun and the moon, causing a crescent-shaped shadow to crawl up the orb from the bottom, giving it a deep red-orange glow beginning at around 6:15am (which in an Arizona winter, is still pre-dawn).
As with dusk the night before, the sky, appearing black to the naked eye, would reveal a lot of blue in a time-exposure taken just before sun-up, so I elected to make the moon a small part of an overall composition instead of an isolated solo superstar. I have plenty of textured zoom shots of the moon: what interests me in such special cases is the light and hue of it in context. In this case, fifteen seconds wide open at f/2 was enough to get the major bits to register. Still too lazy to find my tripod, I subbed a folding stepladder. A matter of five minutes’ work.
I certainly plan to be around in 2037 when another “Super Blue Moon/ Bloodmoon/Lunar Eclipse appears, but in years past I also have planned to retain all my hair and teeth, and the jury’s still out on that particular quest. In the meantime, all of life is littered with wonder, so, as the old pop song sez, pick up your hat, lock up your flat, get out, get under the moon…