Sunday, December 11, 2011

Spaced Out

Maybe all this waiting is beginning to take it's toll...this entrenched blocking high has limited snowmaking to around 8hrs/day most of the week. Fortunately the weather allowed for good viewing of Saturday morning's Total Lunar Eclipse.

Friday morning my alarm roused me before 6AM, up early to listen to some radio hijinx. Between programs, there's lots of "dead air" on streaming internet radio. During the silence, I heard what I thought was the Landlord on the front stairs...but wait the footsteps weren't coming down the stairs...they were loitering at the top of the stairs...weird. No sound of doors opening, garage door quiet...about then it dawned on my just awakened brain...I wonder if it's a bear?!

That's when I heard Mrs Landlord yelling from the bottom of the stairs: "Hey Bear...Get Outta Here Bear...Go Away Bear...Go Bear...Go Away Bear"

Saturday morning I thought about that bear as I crested the top of those stairs a few minutes before 6AM on my way to clear skies to view the eclipse...nobody home. Full disclosure...I didn't hear any loitering sounds as I rigged my camera stuff.

It was cold enough that the car's windshield had real ice on the windshield, not just a patina of frost. I scraped enough off with a CD case to drive the two blocks to my viewing spot. There was another skywatcher already there...bundled up, he looked comfy in the bed of his pickup truck, the crossbed toolbox doing duty as sofa cushions.

I pulled over and parked, grabbed my camera and home-made SteadyCam (my tripod is down at the Ancestral Digs) It was about five minutes from totality so there was still a bright white crescent at the bottom of the Moon. My little point and shoot digital camera didn't have enough zoom...the Moon was tiny, too tiny to post here. (The images were clear though despite the long exposure time, thanks to the SteadyCam/Tripod) It was freaking cold! I knew I couldn't sit out there for an hour waiting for the Moon to get closer to the mountaintops, so I drove up to Donner Summit for a closer look.

I pulled onto Sugar Bowl's parking garage and had a magnificent view of the Moon sinking in the West. Still in totality, the smoky red hue was beginning to fade against the deep blue dawn sky. It was at least 10°F warmer than in Truckee.

I could see the lights of the Bowl's snowmaking fans across Summit Valley...they looked lonely spread out across the slopes. They looked like they were barely making any was marginal conditions at best. They were all shut down when I looked at the webcam about 8AM. Saturday's high was the warmest in a week, high 40s.

The bells will soon be tolling for Phobos/Grunt, and the finger pointing has begun. The news is making it's way into the mainstream press now. The Washington Post has today's update.


  1. I wish I had been there. As a matter of fact, I had forgotten ALL about it, when I awoke with a start..."if I miss that event I'll be ticked!".

    That is the wonder of electronic info gathering! That, and I went outside, faced West and through the trees I saw it begining to happen!

    It was witch titty cold so I had the pleasure of going back in the house and getting some coffee and wandering back outside for the viewing of the eclipse.

    Arounf 0605ish I called up some friends.

    In hindsight, I should have remembered and planned to take in the viewing from Fields Creek Road.

    It was still a pretty dang awe inspiring visual.

  2. Yeah, It was beautiful...Damn cold at the DaveCave, too.

    I gotta get a longer lens, or an adapter for my telescope!

    I talked to Mrs Landlord...the bear was a Medium, with a shiny coat and a taste for suet bird feeders.

    She thinks it was one of two cubs that Momma Bear brought by a year and a half ago.