Are you ready for a prime time eclipse of the full moon? It’s happening tonight. You are probably already making preparations for it.
If you’re Chinese, you have already made your moon cake for the autumn moon festival. If you are Southern, you maybe have some MoonPies, or wood ready for a fire to make the last s’mores of the season. I’m especially going to pay attention to the wild animals. How will they respond? Will the owls quit hooting? Will the coyotes howl more or less?
This is my kind of spectator sport. Not quite as action-filled as a good football game, but no traffic or crowds to fight. And no referees to make bad calls. Nothing can stop this spectacle.
Just find a spot with a clear view of the Eastern Sky and wait for the sun, Earth and moon to line up. This month’s alignment is pretty close to dead-on, so the moon will go through our shadow this evening and provide us with a total lunar eclipse. Most full moons occur with the moon a little too far north or south, due to the tilted lunar orbit, and the moon slides above or below our shadow and no eclipse.
But twice a year, about six months apart, we get the close alignment that provides chances for both lunar and solar eclipses. Right now, the eclipse seasons are in September and March, but they are about 20 days earlier each year, due to changes in the moon’s orbit.
This lunar eclipse is unique for it’s timing. At Meadowcreek the eclipse will start about sunset with the more visible partial phases starting just after 9 p.m. According to my sources, it will be totally eclipsed by 10:11 p.m., and not start emerging until 11:23, for more than an hour of total eclipse.
Because it is the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox, tonight’s is the Harvest Moon, and because it arrives at it’s closest point to the earth tonight it will be the biggest full moon of 2015–a so-called super moon.
If Earth’s twilight zone is mostly clear as the weatherman predicts, some sunlight will be bent through it, stripped of the blue light that makes our sky blue, and it will paint the moon a nice “blood” red.
So, we could well have a Harvest Moon, a super moon, a blood moon and an eclipse all in one.
Yet, while millions are making an effort to view the eclipse, some American Indians are adhering to tradition by staying indoors. Some Navajos in Monument Valley in northeast Arizona tell us they stay inside where they don’t eat, drink or sleep for the duration of the eclipse.
When a total lunar eclipse turns the moon red, some Aboriginal Australian communities say its the spirit of a dead man rising from his grave.
According to Jewish Rabbinic tradition (Talmud – Mas. Sukkah 29a), a lunar eclipse is a bad omen for Israel. From the Talmud, Sukkah 29a: 23-24: “it is a bad omen for Israel since they are inured to blows. This may be compared to a school teacher who comes to school with a strap in his hand. Who becomes apprehensive? He who is accustomed to be daily punished.”
The Talmud goes on to say: a red moon at lunar eclipse means a sword is coming for the whole world. A black moon at the eclipse means arrows of famine are coming to the world. Since tonight’s eclipse will be in the East, the “calamity will tarry in its coming.” So the Talmud says things will be bad, but the bad won’t come for awhile.
It’s intriguing to think about implications for our human lives of these events. But I think they are just a nice diversion–like a big football game. I’m much more interested in the impact of supernovas, meteors or solar flares, but I doubt any will specifically seek out Israel or Meadowcreek to disturb. It might be fun if they did, but usually the stars and planets relate to us as we relate to the meadow below the Resilience House.
We are building garden mounds down there. When we do so, we really disrupt the earthworms and totally destroy the existing vegetation. For them, we are making a total transformation of their system, much like the earth traveling around the sun and rotating on its axis makes day and night, winter and summer for us.
But for us, making a garden mound isn’t a big event. We prepare some biochar a day or two before and it takes a few hours of digging and winnowing and mixing to finish it and then we move on to other parts of our system. To the microorganisms at the mound site, their whole system has been transformed. They have new spaces and substrates to colonize, new neighbors to make symbioses with, new nutrients to ingest.
All resilient systems are locally self-organized. The planets and stars have a really resilient system. As far as we can tell, nothing much affects it. Local to a planet is its sun, its moons and other planets. They are organized in a solar system which interacts with other solar systems to form galaxies, which interact with other galaxies in very predictable ways.
Our system is not quite so predictable. At our scale we have all sorts of disturbances to withstand due to the weather and climate the celestial bodies have created for us. Not to mention the marketing, input supply and political challenges.
As we work to organize ourselves locally to increase our resilience, it’s so nice to reflect on a system which is so stable and resilient. The moon, stars and planets are so predictable. Definitely something you can rely on. Easy to see why early civilizations worshipped them.
Maybe they are a little too boring and predictable to worship nowadays. We need a little more excitement, a little more drama. We need a challenge. Some folks find that challenge in making money or building a big house. That’s what they worship.
Until they find such pursuits are hollow and empty. Much more satisfying is creating resilient systems. Coping with the disturbances in our lives is what humans have always done. We need to do it. It’s what we are supposed to do. We’re here to figure out how to be more resilient. And share it with others.
Or, to put it differently, come to know more of God’s truth and share what we learn with others.
Tonight we’ll take a break just after sunset, turn to the East, and watch something totally predictable, totally stable, totally resilient.