Ever since I started teaching science classes in an elementary school last fall, I have become increasingly more curious about the solar system. This is something I had absolutely zero interest in as a child when I was a student in similar elementary school science classes. I am particularly intrigued by the moon and the stars, so when I heard about this thing called a supermoon last week I immediately started googling.
After reading a few quick articles and watching a very helpful youtube video, I learned that the supermoon was going to be combined with a lunar eclipse, a phenomenon which only happened 5 times in the 20th century! My curiosity spiked to great heights. I won’t bore you with the science-y details but basically this was something I had to see.
My excitement was briefly squashed when I realized the optimum time to see this phenonemon in Madrid was at 4:47am. (I am not a morning person, especially when the “morning” begins at such a ridiculous hour.) This was going to be complicated. But since this was an almost once-in-a-lifetime experience, my boyfriend and I agreed to be outside to see it happen.
The only cool thing about the fact that the superluna danced with the lunar eclipse at that time was the fact that at that exact same moment in Massachusetts, my family was looking at the exact same thing!! Lucky for them their optimum viewing time was 10:47pm.
Before I get to the moon part of this story, I have a thought about curiosity. I live in the middle of a major city, meaning there are a lot of people here. And I had never even heard of a supermoon before, so to me that means it’s rare. Yet despite all this, we only saw one other person outside waiting to see what our moon was up to. Just the three of us. I even saw a guy leave his apartment at 4:49 and walk in the opposite direction from the moon without even taking a peek to see what it looked like. Okay, sure…maybe he didn’t know this was happening just at that moment. But I talked to a lot of people about this in the days leading up and most had at least heard about it. So I wonder if this means that people just don’t pay attention to the simple yet amazing things our world can do, or if they don’t let their curiosity get the best of them enough. Regardless of the fact that it was at a crazy-early hour, it seemed sad to me that there weren’t more people interested in this.
Okay now back to la luna. Although it didn’t seem as red as I had read about (I blame the city lights), the moon looked incredible! It actually looked more like what I imagine a planet would look like it if were super zoomed in. The Earth’s shadow and reddish color made it look less like a bright circle (how it usually appears) and more like a ball in the sky. This shape made the fact that it just hangs out in our atmosphere because of gravity so much more mind-blowing. We watched it for about half an hour and could see it change slightly as it moved into the complete lunar eclipse. I tried to take photos but they did not even come close to doing this justice.
I learned an important lesson this morning as I grumbled out of bed and into the world. Our lives are so overwhelmed with schedules, to do lists, and priorities that we forget to acknowledge the simple things. Perhaps had the eclipse happened at a not-so-unreasonable hour more people would have watched. But I think that’s a lame excuse. Not only was this a sweet, romantic experience I shared with someone I care about, it was also something I may literally never see again.
My point here is not to focus all your attention on the moon – of course not everyone shares this interest with me. But if there is something you’re curious about, don’t let life get in the way of exploring it. Set that alarm and get out there!