What the Solstice Lunar Eclipse Made Me Realize…

I caught a few minutes of the lunar eclipse earlier this week. I didn’t want to stay up late enough to watch it and I really wanted a good night’s sleep, so I got up at 2:30, got outside, watched it for about 5 minutes, and then popped back to bed. But in those 5 minutes, I realized something for the first time.

…we live on a planet. A planet that moves through space. I’ve known this for years & even been a bit aware of the facts. My desktop backgrounds are often astronomical. But even with all of that, it’s hard to grok the way our world works. We can’t actually feel the earth moving and while we see it moving in relation to other things, our brains process the other things as being the ones who are moving. The geocentric view of the universe makes sense if you’re not making charts.

But seeing the Earth’s shadow on the moon, and the apparent slow shift from a partial sliver of white to almost no white at all made me realize that the earth was casting a shadow on the moon. Even though that wasn’t positive proof that the earth was the one doing the moving, for once it actually looked like it. What our minds know can be reinforced a hundred times over by our eyes.

The second I saw the moon, it all clicked into place in my head and I was glad that I’d dragged myself out of bed for it. Once again, the universe is pretty frakking amazing.

2 Comments

  1. January says:

    Maggie and I stood out there for quote a while, until the cold wind made us grouchy; then we went upstairs and watched it from our bathroom window :) All I could think the whole time was 1) holy moly this is spectacularly beautiful and mind-blowing, and 2) no wonder people thought the end was nigh when this stuff happened and nobody knew why!
    And yes, the awareness of spinning through the void on our beautiful dust speck was acute. Totally worth the sleep deprivation!

  2. Eleni says:

    We had a cloudy night :( I was so excited when I learned about the eclipse, but so disappointed when I went out…then went out again…and then checked back again. Rats! But I’m glad some people got to enjoy it :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *