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Family vaguely make out partially eclipsed moon through thick cloud, react with undue pleasure - Many a mickle maks a muckle

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November 9th, 2003


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04:30 am - Family vaguely make out partially eclipsed moon through thick cloud, react with undue pleasure
Definitely felt worse on Wednesday than on Tuesday, but have been recovering since. Now getting as many as five hours' sleep at a stretch, I'm back to 95% health with just a slight headache, undue sweatiness and some persistent nose'n'throat baddies to contend with. Not a particularly bad cold as they go, really, but it doesn't take very much to put me off. Apologies to those whose birthdays I have missed celebrating - strangefrontier and vanityfair, I think, who both brighten my day regularly. Ladies, I hope you both had wonderful days. A wave of the hanky to all those nice people in Oxford who are being spared my germs, too.

Nevertheless, I had been cooped up convalescing in the house for too long and declared that the current lunar eclipse was good enough excuse to rally the parents to drive the car out for a late night adventure. The weather forecast said "cloudy in the north-east, partially cloudy in the north-west"; true to form, the moon was completely invisible from here, so I suggested we head west. You can follow our trail on this map, but I've produced a map graphic with the trail we took overlaid in purple (1.11 MB .png file, map section represents 40km E-W and 20km N-S) as well. I'd recommend the former rather than the latter, not least because my freehand line-following skills are limited.

In fact, we first went to the Castle Eden Walkway, where we know local astronomy fans have congregated in the past. Some folks in the car park already, but clearly not interested in stargazing; the cloud cover continued to be complete and very thick, so we got back in the car and headed west again, along the major roads which happily head reasonably directly west. We only had about half an hour of totality in the eclipse and had reached Bishop Auckland by the end of it, with no let-up at all in the cloud. We decided to keep going for Barnard Castle, the next big town west (about 3km or so off the Western edge of the map) and were getting reasonably close when Mum pointed out that she could see the moon, just about, from the car window. We pulled into the next junction, stopped the car and got out.

The moon was very indistinct and could only be seen faintly through the continuing cover. With the totality having finished, it was its traditional white colour, too. However, despite being a full moon night, the shape we saw was clearly not round and evidently in partial eclipse. Not a dramatic result, but definitely enough for us and we declared the adventure to have been a complete success. We celebrated by following the unmarked road we had turned down, not knowing where it was, travelling through a couple of farming hamlets and eventually connecting with a major road on the other side. Coming home took about another 40 minutes, but a very jolly 40 minutes they were too, with my parents singing cowboy rock'n'roll tunes from their youth together for the first time in ages. An excellent and successful adventure, all things considered. Thank you, parents! Thank you, Solar System!

Games on US TV alert: can't remember whether it was Clay or Mason who wanted to be reminded, but the 2003 Scrabble All-Star Championship airs on ESPN Sunday, November 9th, 3:30pm to 4:30pm. Tomorrow! (Possibly today! Maybe even yesterday!)
Current Mood: getting better slowly + surely

(11 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


From:philonightmare
Date:November 8th, 2003 09:22 pm (UTC)
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Good! You're feeling better! *glomps* And don't you go back getting your blood drawn so quickly again! *reprimands*

but a very jolly 40 minutes they were too, with my parents singing cowboy rock'n'roll tunes from their youth together for the first time in ages. *laughs at the thought of her own parents doing something so...family-like for teh lack of a better term*
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From:jiggery_pokery
Date:November 12th, 2003 07:00 pm (UTC)
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And don't you go back getting your blood drawn so quickly again! *reprimands*

I'm likely to do so at least once more, mainly on the grounds that I don't do a lot of community-spirited things (that is, I don't give a lot of time or money to charity, and frankly I know I could try harder here) and so this is some way to help out. Next one in probably another fourteen weeks or so, but the sessions are held on about a monthly basis, so if it looks like I have important things coming up in March which I don't want to risk missing, maybe I'll skip a month.
From:2ndavemusic
Date:November 9th, 2003 04:07 am (UTC)
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It was I. Can't believe I'm now writing myself a note to watch ESPN. Thanks!

Glad to read you're feeling better.
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From:jiggery_pokery
Date:November 12th, 2003 07:00 pm (UTC)
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It's a very pleasant change that ESPN have something so entertaining, by your definition of the term and mine, to watch.

Actually, I always rather enjoy ESPN when I get the chance to see it (which has been "about the start of baseball season" in 2000, 2001 and 2002). There's so-o-o-o-o-o much blinking Sportscenter, though...
From:2ndavemusic
Date:November 12th, 2003 10:39 pm (UTC)
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Indeed it was pleasant. Though I confess I didn't find the program all that compelling. Not much play-along value, it seemed to me. Fatsis was a fine commentator, but the female host seemed to be trying too hard.

As for Sportscenter, remember: were it not for that show, there would have been no Sports Night--and without Sports Night my life would be far less rich than it has been. My, what a show that was!
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From:fangexploring
Date:November 9th, 2003 07:15 am (UTC)
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Glad you had such a good time on your excursion to see the eclipse, Chris. :)

Ken
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From:jiggery_pokery
Date:November 12th, 2003 07:01 pm (UTC)
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It would still have been a pretty good adventure if we hadn't seen the moon at all. Getting the urge and doing these things at silly hours of the morning definitely makes things more fun somehow. That's (the) one consolation of the unhelpful hours we all keep.
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From:strangefrontier
Date:November 9th, 2003 04:29 pm (UTC)
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Good to hear you're on the mend, and thanks for the birthday wishes. :-)

The people in my astronomy class never quite appreciated me pointing out the irony of eclipse-chasing (be it moon, sun, ego, whatever) - going to see something when the point of the event is that the object isn't visible, due to it being eclipsed.

"What are you looking at?"
"The sun."
"I can't see it."
"Exactly."
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From:jiggery_pokery
Date:November 12th, 2003 07:07 pm (UTC)
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Yes, but at least these things are not-there in interesting ways. :-)
From:(Anonymous)
Date:November 10th, 2003 12:35 pm (UTC)

A unique perspective

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I was fortunate enough to have been at an auction in Virginia on Saturday and was scheduled to fly back to Gadsden, AL on the company private plane that afternoon. As luck would have it the president of the company was delayed at the auction and as a result our flight was set back to approximately 7pm EST.

Upon taking off from Mt Airy, NC (claim to fame is that Andy Griffith's Mayberry was inspired by this town - but thats a whole 'nuther story) the 5 other passengers other than myself were vying for the prime eclipse viewing seat. I have seen a fair few lunar eclipses and was happy to let someone else have the best seat and crane my neck from wherever. As it turned out, by the time we had lifted off and straightened up on our homeward bound flight path, my left hand side aft-facing seat was the only seat which gave a perfectly clear view back to the moon in the east-south-east sky. So for the next two hours I watched as the moon went from full to completely eclipsed from an altitude of 8000 feet (way above any cloud cover).

It was a superb view and certainly made it a more enjoyable trip home. Flying private may sound luxurious but in actual fact the leg room is actually a little less than commercial seating. Its also very noisy (twin prop) and pretty darn chilly (heat is not very effective). The benefits to private flights are lack of check-in procedures, no security (hence one can take nail clipping scissors [confiscated in Dallas-Fort Worth last month] and aerosol deodorant on these trips) and proximity to home when you land (10 mins away as opposed to 1 hour to BHM or 2 hours to ATL). Oh, and you get the obvious benefit of saying to people that "I'm flying private today".

Anyway, best eclipse ever!!!!

Gareth.
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From:jiggery_pokery
Date:November 12th, 2003 07:07 pm (UTC)

Re: A unique perspective

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GARETH WINS!

Great tale. Did you take photos? I'm most jealous of the private flight; interested to find out the drawbacks, but I guess private flight is primarily intended for those for whom the time savings make the financial expenditure worthwhile. There was/is(?) an initiative to make a new generation of private corporate aircraft that was at one point spearheaded by Richard Noble, who used to hold the Land Speed Record. However, I think his part of the team got bought out. Their web site used to be updated in great detail every month and was tremendous fun to follow, not least because it was written in depth with considerable style and it was wonderful to see the team struggle but keep pulling together (shades of... well, you know what). Unfortunately the new version of the company is far less forthcoming with the information so are much less fun.

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