Cloudy Weather for Viewing the Lunar Eclipse in Wimberley
Saturday, March 3, 2007
Although this eclipse offered one of the most spectacular views in the sky for most of North America, Wimberley settled for a cloudy eclipse and a beautiful sunset.
Total lunar eclipse on cloudy night in Wimberley. (Click for slideshow.)
Total lunar eclipse on a clear night

On Saturday, March 3, 2007, beginning just before sunset, Wimberley did get a glimpse of the best eclipse of the year for North America, although the cloud cover prevented the most spectacular views. The Moon was eclipsed by the Earth, and was fully eclipsed here at moonrise, around sunset.

With beautifully clear days before and after the day of the eclipse, the cloudy weather was a disappointment for viewers, although a gorgeous sunset was on hand in the western sky as a consolation prize.

A total eclipse of the Moon can be quite spectacular. A total eclipse happens only when the Earth passes directly in front of a full Moon, thus casting its shadow on the Moon's surface.

When the Moon travels completely into the Earth's umbra, with good viewing conditions, we have the opportunity to view a total lunar eclipse.

The eclipsed moon is actually reddish and is one of the most beautiful sights in the sky. The exact color will depend on what's floating around in Earth's atmosphere during the eclipse, and how that affects light rays.

Here's how it works. Although the Earth blocks the light from the Sun to the Moon, some of the sunlight passes through the Earth's atmosphere. It is this light that bends around the earth and shines on the Moon. Since the shorter wavelengths of light are scattered, only the longer wavelengths reach the moon. These are usually orange and red, producing the beautiful, glowing hue on the Moon we see.

Across the ages, people of many cultures have developed myths and legends about eclipses. An omen of an upcoming natural disaster or the downfall of a ruler was a recurring theme in these beliefs. An Eastern intrepretation has an invisible dragon devouring the Sun or Moon, and many methods were used to frighten the dragon away. People would gather together to bang on pans, drum, shout, or even shoot arrows at the "dragon" to drive it away and restore the familiar sky.

However, some cultures took a more positive view. Tahitians interperted an eclipse as the lovemaking of the Sun and Moon. Today, some Eskimos and Aleuts still believe that the eclipse occurs because the Sun and Moon are temporarily leaving the sky to come down to make sure all is going well on Earth.

Whatever the interpretation, it is a natural phenomenon well worth taking a moment to watch. For many of us, our first view  of a "Pumpkin Moon" as a child is an event that stays in our minds for a lifetime.