Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Meanwhile, in the Skies Tonight...

Lunar eclipses are always interesting, and they can be shared by most of a planet, unlike solar eclipses that follow a narrow strip of land across the globe. I was a little frustrated tonight because high cloudiness affected the view of the unfolding eclipse, but I did what I could.
I was reminded of one of the greatest teaching moments I've ever had, among them having an earthquake take place while teaching about earthquakes. During one of those moments, I was watching the students intently taking a test on quakes when the room shook. Barely anyone even looked up and I told them to look at the swaying monitors on the ceiling and then told them they all failed for not getting under their desks. The ultimate surprise quiz.

But the truly best night was an earth science class a decade or so ago. I was introducing the course and commenting on the shape of the Earth and the students answered in various versions of round, circular, or spherical. I argued that we were on the back of the turtle. They laughed, but I then asked any of them to prove it wasn't.

Dead silence....

Someone said we have pictures from space. I responded that we had pictures of the Death Star and the Enterprise too.

More silence...

So I was able to take the whole class outdoors and point at the ongoing lunar eclipse and ask them what shape the Earth was casting across the surface of the Moon. None of them said turtle. They were impressed (for once!).
In any case, here are my somewhat clouded shots of tonight's eclipse. Other skywatchers
in areas with clear skies will no doubt have finer shots, but what can I say? It was certainly more fun than the taxes I was working on...



It's way too late to catch the other side, so here is totality, and I'm calling it a night...

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