by Amy LV
Last night was a total lunar eclipse, coinciding with the solstice this year. According to the NASA Eclipse Website, "The entire event is/was visible from North America and Western South America."
SpaceWeather.com writes, "Is this rare? It is indeed, according to Geoff Chester of the US Naval Observatory, who inspected a list of eclipses going back 2000 years. 'Since year 1, I can only find one previous instance of an eclipse matching the same calendar date as the solstice, and that is December 21, 1638, says Chester. 'Fortunately, we won't have to wait 372 years for the next one...that will be on December 21, 2094.'"
To better understand this phenomenon, I asked my patient science teacher husband to demonstrate a lunar eclipse with common household objects. With a green yarn ball (Earth), a white sock (moon) and a floor lamp (sun), he showed me how it works. The combination of this with Fred Espenak's article, "Lunar Eclipses for Beginners" helped me to understand how lunar eclipses differ from solar eclipses. I printed this out, underlining passages and jotting notes to help me remember and make sense of these movements. To see some wonderful animations of sky-happenings, check out Shadow & Substance.
Students - on the draft above, you will see a few things which helped me write this poem. The alphabet in the upper right hand corner always helps me find rhyming words which make sense together. You can see some of those in the lower left hand corner. This time I needed a little drawing too, to help me remember the positions of each player in this night sky drama.
Of course my revisions included my husband Mark. I asked him, "Would you please read this to see if I got the science right?"
I hope that some of you got to see the eclipse last night. (It was too cloudy here to see much.) If you missed it this time, take a peek at the NASA Eclipse Website and mark down the date for the next eclipse where you live.
For a beautiful 2010 poetry book about the sky, don't miss SKY MAGIC, edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by Mariusz Stawarski.
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Happy eclipse! Happy solstice!
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