I’ve had a fair view of many lunar eclipses in my life, even full lunar eclipses. I recall in November of 2003, when I was in central Ohio camping, and I got to witness a total lunar eclipse out in the open air, no lights to obscure my viewing, the weather clear and not too cold for that time of year. The shadows crept from the corners of the moon and began to swallow it whole; midway through, the tints of red started to overshadow the typical vivid white reflection of the sun. It was a wonderful experience. A few years before that, a total lunar eclipse occurred around Christmas time and I witnessed the red moon at my old home in Lakewood. I stood on my old deck, covered with melting snow, wrapped in layers, and peered at the starry sky with the astronomical wonder happening before my very eyes.
On New Year’s Eve 2009, in Istanbul, I witnessed a partial lunar eclipse. Half the full moon began to inch away, as if slowly nibbled on by some hungry space creature. I noted the movement of the shadow and told my friends Sibel, Jon, and Erkan about what was happening.
My observation of lunar eclipses have been sated. Solar eclipses have not been as prevalent for me; I saw one back in 1994. It just so happened that a partial solar eclipse happened and the track of the actual eclipse traversed over much of the United States, and the area of the strongest eclipse would travel over the Cleveland area. Luck beyond luck. I was in the 4th grade and my teacher at the time, Mrs. Hass, wanted us to experience the phenomenon as well. We created some eclipse-viewing device that involved a piece of paper and something else to focus the sunlight into a smaller space. The moment of eclipse for us was midday, so the sun was quite small to begin with and therefore the reflection of the sun was the size of the eraser-end of a #2 pencil. I still got to see the moon’s shadow traverse over the sun, even if I didn’t catch it near the horizon where the size of the sun would have been magnified and where the eclipse would have been even more astounding. I still had the privilege to view this eclipse.
After hearing from some of my students about how they saw a total solar eclipse a few years previously (in Turkey, this happened in 2006), I knew I needed to see it with my own eyes, a total solar eclipse, well, at least as safely as possible because I guess it can hurt your eyes if you look directly at the sun. For realsies.
To the present we go. Or just about the present. An annual solar eclipse happened yesterday. Dusk took place before the eclipse would have reached Ohio, however. The images I saw online swelled the jealousy in me and made my yearning to see an eclipse even stronger!
Looks like the next one visible, at least in Ohio, will be a partial eclipse on the 20th of October in 2014. The next total solar eclipse in Ohio will be August 21, 2017 (not the greatest eclipse viewing but still view-able). If I wanted perfection in viewing a solar eclipse in Ohio, I’d have to wait till April 8, 2024. Just after my 40th birthday. Yikes.
So, astronomy geeks, unite!