Lunar eclipse rekindles my interest in social astronomy

Photo Cred­it: Lance Taylor

The Feb­ru­ary 20th event where the Earth drif­ted between the Sun and the Moon was an inter­est­ing one for me.

After Tess men­tioned the night before that it’d likely be vis­ible here (Edmon­ton, Alberta, Canada), and that we do have a nice little tele­scope, some bin­ocu­lars, and a couple of cam­er­as, that maybe we should make an effort to actu­ally watch it.

So, after a quick email exchange with a couple of friends, an impromptu eclipse party was set up on a good friend’s drive­way (hi Scratch!). It was also for­tu­nate his drive­way faced east, right toward the rising moon.

Now to the social part. This was coördin­ated over the course of a few hours dur­ing the day, mostly by email.

The degree interest, and par­ti­cip­a­tion was awe-inspir­ing. Ranger Bob brought out his atom-smash­er 8″ scope with cam­era mount. He also brought a few oth­er scopes and bin­ocu­lars. Ranger Bob wins the Gear award 🙂

Anoth­er friend had a digit­al cam­era moun­ted on the scope, and recor­ded over 2000 frames to be com­piled into a movie.

Tess and I brought our gear, Scratch had a few items of optics, as well a few oth­er brought sup­port sup­plies, Cof­fee and Donuts. The drive­way looked like the media pit at a space shuttle launch!

Neigh­bour­hood fam­il­ies wandered by. Kids kept oohing at the view through the scopes and bin­ocu­lars.

The most inter­est­ing part of the even­ing occurred when we real­ized we were get­ting some glare on Ranger Bob’s scope from the over­head street­light, right above us. Out came a large black umbrella, and turns were taken hold­ing it up to shield the scope.

You can sort-of see the umbrella (the blurry thing) just below the moon.

But for me, the even­ing wasn’t just about the plan­et­ary event, though that was cool, it was about hanging out with friendly, like-minded people and shar­ing the exper­i­ence.

I need to do more of that 🙂

For more info on the event and many more pho­tos, check out:

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