A slanted cloud bank raised the eastern horizon this evening, testing the patience of many dozens who gathered on the hilltops of Cesar Chavez Park to wait for the “blood moon,” the rare combination of “supermoon” and total lunar eclipse that won’t happen again until 2033. But a few minutes before 8 pm, when the eclipse had reached its maximum, a ghostly, barely visible orb began to detach itself from the edge of the clouds. As advertised, it was dark and red, or deep orange. Rising higher, it became clearer and sharper to the eye, but remained in the earth’s shadow for the better part of an hour that I spent watching it.
We take it for granted now that astronomers are able to predict the exact hour, minute and location of this kind of phenomenon. Yet it’s really quite a feat of observation and calculation that it took many decades, perhaps centuries, to perfect. Sometimes scientists very obviously know what they’re talking about, and even the most right-wing Republican isn’t heard as an eclipse-denier.