Early this morning, the alarm woke me from sleep to see the last complete lunar eclipse visible from the UK for about 10 years. When I first looked up at about 4:15, slightly less than half of the moon’s face was bright, and the rest a dull mark against the sky. High clouds were covering a lot of the sky, but by 4:45, a thin bright crescent was still visible.
As the peak of the eclipse drew near, of course, the clouds thickened. For a few brief moments, I was able to see the most beautiful sight: Selene’s lingering crescent modelled in ghostly silvery light as washes of copper light moved across her darkened face. I wasn’t prepared for the dynamism of the event, but all too briefly – she slipped behind the clouds again. I had one or two more glimpses of the almost-dark moon but then the show was over. I stood in the dark and cold misty air, and heard the church bells ring out 5 o’clock – time to go back to bed and snatch some more sleep.
I saw the moon again at just after 7:30, riding serenely over the northwestern horizon and modestly veiled in cream cirrus, but after a few minutes, she sank down into her duvet of pearly pink and grey, and disappeared.