I had heard a little something about this “once in a lifetime” moon that was going to appear on January 31st of this year. Some chatter at work, running on the treadmill and seeing the news report about it. I got home, took a shower, ate something, responded to some messages, and then wanted to relax. Leaving the moon in the back of my mind.
It already feels like a long week at work and it’s only Tuesday. Laying in bed with my headphones on, in the dark, shutting off my brain, and resting my legs after a long run sounds good. I’m poking around the Mood section of Spotify, finally settling on the Ambient Chill playlist and let it play. It’s 1:30 am and my room is completely dark but my mind is full of vivid thoughts of expectations of what was supposed to happen tonight. Around 2:30 am, when the reports said the event would start, I’m wondering if I should go outside to see if anything was actually happening in the sky.
Walking through the darkness to the door and there was a moon as bright as I had ever seen. I’m looking at the ground and see my moon shadow and how my skin is glowing. I’m becoming transfixed. They say a full moon can make you do and think strange things and this was the super blue blood moon. Is that happened? This could be an interesting night.
Grabbing a sweater, my camera, and a cheap 70-200mm telephoto lens, I decided to see what would happen. A few more ambient songs played until Endless Fragments of Time by Deep Watch came on and felt I’m being taken to another world. Where everything was happening slower and surrounded by just a little more darkness. It was the perfect song so I had to set it to repeat through the rest of the night. Deeply watching endless fragments of time in the heavens above.
Never having seen the moon this bright before, I stared mesmerizingly. As I stared, around the circumference of the moon, I began to make out what could only be described as a blue fire. I’d blink or look away and it was gone until I stared intensely again. It must have been a trick of the eyes. What if the moon could actually catch fire?
Out of the corner of my eye, I see a faint and slow pulsing red light in the sky; a plane leaving a chem trail. Marveling that a human being was way up there piloting that plane. How incredible. I’m standing there, slowly following the path of the plane to the music trying to envision what they’re seeing through their eyes. How dark is the way forward? Trying to hear a dull drone of a jet just under the sound of the song playing. A man or woman with an oxygen mask, visor, and helmet. Lights blinking and flashing all over. Reflecting off the the windshield and their visor. Do they know that someone so far below is watching them, listening to this eerie music with these thoughts? It’s 3:30 am.
The longer I watch, the longer I feel I’m being watched. The eclipse is starting and it’s growing darker here on earth. More stars are starting to shine as the moon is fading. I’m told this type of lunar phenomenon only happens once every 150 years. What did the people of the world think was happening in 1868? What were they thinking in the year 1718? 1568? 1418? 1268? 1118? 968? All the way back to the earliest days of mankind’s curiosity. And even before that. I imagine that as the years went on, it was documented more thoroughly and even anticipated. Each passing brought on less fear that some unseen force was punishing them by taking the moon from the sky and it was just a cyclically natural occurrence. In 2018, it’s become something to post to social media and then quickly forgotten. I’m sure there were photographers who captured the entire show more thoroughly than I could. Most people just snapped a photo with their phone, living this rare moment through a small screen and not through their own eyes. Not me. My years of travel have taught me to burn special moments into memory because they all become so fleeting and ephemeral as I get older.
In the year 2168, I envision a crowd of space vessels carrying people watching this from a large window floating just a few miles from the moon. Holding champagne in a comfortable pod next to a loved one. If by some small chance, this post is archived and some curious person wants to see how a humble person in 2018 experienced this, and is reading right now, hello, person from the future. I’m long dead and I hope this message finds you well. How is earth? Have we colonized any other planets yet? Are you happy?
It’s now around 4 am and that aforementioned song is still looping. There’s only a small crest of the moon still visible at the bottom and then the moon was gone completely. It feels special if not a little strange. I can’t stop looking at the sky. Now there is a faint and dark ball in the sky before its outline begins to turn red. Even with all the science, knowledge, and anticipation, it still feels ominous. It’s even more unsettling to see the moon turn to blood. What frightened our ancestors more? The moon being obscured by unseen forces or watching the moon slowly brighten into a color associated with death, fury, and anger?
It’s now close to 6 am and that eerie song is still looping. I’m taking long exposures of the blood moon. Watching it streak across the night in the camera’s reviewer. During which I start to notice how different the night sky looks. An unfamiliar night, an unfamiliar sky, unfamiliar star patterns and constellations have moved in. Orion was further west, facing down and The Pleiades were near the horizon. Was that the head of Scorpius rising from the southeastern horizon? I’ve never seen Scorpius while sitting in the cold. What is going on?
I’ve seen nearly 20 different configurations of the night sky in nearly 20 different countries and I’ve never felt I was this far away in my own literal backyard. Still looking up at the sky, I can’t help but realize that my mind has wandered into a lot of different times and places. Does the moon really have an effect on your mindset? Did it get me? From the first humans who ventured out of their cave and stood under the night sky, trying to understand the white ball of light that cycled through its phases and struck by an unfathomable number of luminous bodies above them before the stars even had a name. To a present day man looking up with more knowledge but with a mind just as curious and a bit frightened by the thought of infinite vastness.
It was a strange night.