Well, hasn’t the moon been busy putting on a show this month? First, the full moon occurred at perigee, creating a “super-moon”, where the full moon appears bigger and brighter than normal. Next, the new moon passed between the Earth and the Sun to create a “Ring of Fire” eclipse which was visible from the western United States.
Since Bruce and I are traveling through California, we were lucky enough to not only see both astronomical events, but to actually photograph them. In the case of the super moon, we were treated to clear skies and the full moon rising near perigee bathed in a beautiful yellow color. Quite spectacular!
For the solar eclipse, we had positioned ourselves right in the umbra path of the eclipse in Crescent City, CA, where we expected to watch the eclipse from the beach on the Pacific Ocean. Of course, we knew the danger with this strategy, as the major weather comes in off the Pacific and it generates the famous fog that sustains the mighty coastal redwoods. Oh yeah, there are big trees here too, which can block the view. Well, as you might expect, as the time of the eclipse approached we realized the weather was not going to totally cooperate. It was becoming overcast. So, we needed to decide whether we would have better luck going inland (did I mention there are big trees here) or going further down the coast to escape the clouds. I looked at the radar and we decided we would have the best luck driving south. And if we went far enough south, then going inland would again become another option. So we hopped in the car and headed south and were almost immediately treated to sunshine. Good sign, but the eclipse was still several hours off.
We were not certain how far south we needed to drive, but I suggested the Redwood National and State Parks visitor center which is on the southern end of the park and on the ocean, which would afford us some nice sky views. We stopped several places along the way and received many opinions about the best place to try and see the eclipse. It was becoming an interesting day. We finally arrived at the Visitor Center and we could see the clouds moving in. Oh yeah, the fog bank was just off shore. The rangers in the Visitor Center believed there would be breaks in the clouds and fog that we would be able to see the eclipse. So we needed to decide, stay or keep driving.
Bruce and I looked at each other and realized this was one of those times to stop and trust. So we decided to stay. We had our safety glasses and Bruce had a solar film for the camera lens. We joined a small group of like-minded people on the beach and waited for the show. It was a beautiful evening with the Pacific Ocean glassy calm. The sun played tag with the clouds. Finally, when the time came, we got our break and watched the Ring of Fire form on the sun. Pretty awesome!