One of the most wonderful astronomical events available without the need
of any particular artificial optical instrument, and shared almost
instantaneously in a whole hemisphere is without doubts a Lunar Eclipse.
And the Eclipse from December 21st, 2010 was no exception to the
previous statement, with so many good astro-friend in may Countries that
were as expectant as I was for this event.
This particular eclipse coincided with the Winter Solstice for the
Northern Hemisphere and happened to be one of the most “darkest”
(meaning that: one where the shadow of our planet fell almost perfectly
over the lunar disc) in the recent times.
With so many expectation and nerves, a small group from ANASA
gathered at the fields of the Pierre & Marie Curie elementary
school, in the outskirts of Managua; battling against mosquitoes and the
late hour of the event. For Nicaragua, the Penumbral part of the
eclipse began on Dec. 20th, 23:30 hours.
Around some 40 people joined us, mostly kids; willing to observe
their first Lunar Eclipse. Weather forecast were reserved for us,
talking about heavy clouds and strong winds.
We were able to enjoy the eclipse just until a few minutes past the
initial part of Totality, where those dreaded forecasts became true:
clouds rapidly covered our sky and stayed there for a very long time,
whilst a dark-reddened Moon hovered above us, hidden from our sight.
I had the chance to peek at the Moon for a brief time, using my small
telescope, in a window among the clouds, and I was amazed how really
dark it was! I was able to hint some blue and purple tint on the less
darker areas, something I had never saw before during a total eclipse.
I was glad to spent this time with my wife and several friends from
ANASA: Ricardo Ruiz, Sergio Melendez and Nohelia Ocampo. Also it was fun
to receive updates via SMS from Adelmo Sandino and Javier Ramirez,
while a diligent Luis Arguello kept an open line by phone, reporting
Sergio was so kind to bring with him the smallest telescope I have
ever seen: it resemble pretty much to a can of potatoes chips. The
resulting end: kids love it!
I invite you to share with the us the experience, by watching the pictures already posted in my Picasa web album.