After there have been 2 total solar eclipses in 2001 and 2002 in the southern hemisphere, which we could follow only in the media, it was our turn again in 2003 ! There were 'only' lunar eclipses, but there were 2 ...
For 16th of May,
we had big luck : After a cloudy day, the skies were clear all night through.
At the beginning of the eclipse, when our natural satellite was still high enough above the horizon, the sight onto the moon was fantastic. It appeared rather large in the sky, and the structure of its surface was clearly visible in my binoculars.
I watched the beginning of the eclipse from the attic of our house at 4:00 a.m. Imagine the moon a face of a watch, then the shadow of the earth touched it at its 8 o'clock position. A quarter of an hour later, a brown glow appeared at the rim of the darkest place of the moon.
Unfortunately, my photocamera is out of order for some time, so that I couldn't take pictures this time.
Later, I went to a hill in the neighbourhood to continue the watching. I could clearly see the eclipsing moon until totality was reached at 5:13 a.m.
Shortly later, the dark moon couldn't hardly be distinguished any more from the dawning sky : Game over !
As the weather forecast for this night had predicted a partially cloudy sky, we got, of course, ... not a single cloud during the eclipse ;-)) (Fairly, I must admit that there *were* clouds later at 6 a.m., when I had to go to work). The slightly foggy horizon didn't matter, as the moon was high in the sky. The temperature, however, did matter : cool feet, and icy binoculars ...
Despite the light pollution of the neighbouring village, the sky was incredibly clear with bright stars. As the moon was travelling at the edge of the terrestrial umbra, it appeared rather light during totality. It had a pale rose to dirty white tint, the details of the surface were clearly visible even in the darker part. During totality, the moon left the impression of backlit china before the deep black sky.
The most beautiful moments were of course just before the beginning and just after the end of totality, when the left border of the pale moon disk got a brilliant white edge. Superb picture !
Next rendez-vous : May 4, 2004 in the evening (totality of more than 1 hour and a quarter ...)