Writer’s Block: Ode to the Super Blood Wolf Moon

Port Isabel-South Padre Press

As a life-long science fiction aficionado, I often gaze skyward and think of the potential heights humankind might one day reach among the stars.

Starships that travel the galaxy and, as the opening credits for the Star Trek franchise say, explore new worlds and new civilizations? Perhaps.

Or, closer to home, will we explore the red terrain of our neighbor Mars?

That particular dream appears closer to fruition thanks to all the work by SpaceX out at Boca Chica.

It’s a bittersweet thought, but I know I won’t be around by the time the Star Trek or Dune or Firefly or Foundation-type technologies come around, if they ever do. However, regardless of the future accomplishments of our species among the cosmos, there’s still a lot to be awed by right now.

One of those things is something we probably all take for granted 99 percent of the time: the moon.

But, this week was a good reminder of just how spectacular our world’s only satellite is. On Sunday night, the moon regaled sky watchers with a one-of-a-kind lunar eclipse dubbed the super blood wolf moon.

“Super” for the relatively large size the moon appeared to be from here on the ground — Sunday was the closest a full moon will be to the Earth all year. “Wolf” for the traditional name of a January full moon. And “blood” for the crimson color that shaded the moon as the Earth cast its shadow upon the lunar surface.

It was a spectacular show. And for all that, I almost missed it.

I forgot it was going to happen, until the eclipse was well underway. By the time I remembered, the moon was fully in the Earth’s shadow.

Why does the moon turn red during an eclipse? It’s because whatever sunlight reaches it has to first pass around the Earth. Many of those light rays get filtered through our atmosphere, leaving only the longest wavelengths of light left to illuminate the moon.

Those just so happen to be on the red end of the visible spectrum. Someone once describe it as being the light from all the sunsets on Earth. I liked the poetry of that idea.

In any case, the moon was completely red by the time I remembered the eclipse was happening. I stood outside on a lonely country road with just a few streetlights dulling the view. Thanksfully, they couldn’t outshine the light show happening directly above me.

Craning my neck all the way back, I looked up at the garnet that was moon hanging at its zenith in the sky. Surrounding it, a crown of shimmering stars and constellations. Orion in one corner, Andromeda in another. Cassiopeia and Ursas Major and Minor. All the major stars of the major constellations.

But, between the dimmed moon and the darkness of the countryside, all the minor stars and galaxies were visible, as well. Shining hard and bright, like chips of diamond. I stood there silent for a moment, simply taking it all in.

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