Thundercloud & Eightball- Rants and Musings

The Sanguine Moon

Last night, after a week of reading about it and hearing about it on the news, we had a full, lunar eclipse. As with most press-hyped events, the sanguine moon event was yet another disappointment.

Astronomers excitedly coaxed me to look by saying  that if I missed this wonder I'd have to wait until 2010 to see it again. This sent waves of urgency running through me until I realized that 2010 is less than two years away.

Well, you just never know. I figured I'd better watch it this time - just in case.

While I watched the earth's shadow crawl across the surface of the moon - I waited with breathless anticipation to see the earth's dusty and particulated atmosphere cast its polluted umbra across the pocked, lunar face. I was perfectly ready to be teased, titillated and awed by the site of a bloated, blood-red moon hovering ruddy in the clear, winter sky.

I gazed up waiting for the  awe - straining my neck to watch that ancient orb turn ruddy and pale on a star-lit night.

Maybe, they said, the moon might be tinged with turquoise.

I'm not sure what turquoise looks like, I don't even have a tie that color - or anything else in my life that color - so I have no point of reference. However, I would have known  a moon of turquoise had the slivery sphere turned any color other than one which I could easily recognize from my kindergarten days.

I know red. I know blue. I know yellow and for certain I know orange. I know what most colors look like - even, believe it or not, mauve.

If the moon would have turned any color other than one I am familiar with, I would have shivered in jubilant waves of exaltation - perhaps hopping wildly around in my backyard with arms flailing.

Had this eclipsed moon turned any color which was not immediately recognizable I would have assumed that it was "turquoise" - the color that astronomers had promised me.

I admit, I was astonished that scientists could, with such precision and no doubt with complicated mathematics which are foreign and boggling to my brain, predict the exact instant the earth's shadow would begin to encroach upon the face of the moon. Their math was impeccable - the shadow appeared exactly at 8:43PM Eastern Standard Time - precisely the time these wizards predicted.

But, as far as I could see from my backyard vantage point, they were wrong about everything else.

Perhaps humanity's efforts to clean the earth's air are succeeding more than we imagined. Or, perhaps the moon just didn't feel like turning red. Maybe it doesn't know what the heck turquoise looks like either and decided to stay dressed in its usual silver-white in spite of the complex mathematics and predictions of those brainy scientists who know so much.

But, my bet is that they don't know what turquoise looks like either.

If the moon was turquoise at any time last night, I missed it. The moon looked normal, then looked dark and then looked normal again.

I am totally disappointed when such a heralded event turns out to be just another non-event. I don't know why I get disappointed though, you would think after about fifty of these I catch on - but I never do.

I remember the comet that swung by in the 1990's. It was supposed to dazzle me with its brilliance, colors, and long, fiery tail. When it finally came, I spent an hour one summer night squinting my eyes, gawking upward, wanting to become a witness to this once-in-a-lifetime astronomical event.

But, all I saw was a tiny, dim, fuzzy, blot of light that looked exactly like a dim, blurry star.

I wish scientists and astronomers wouldn't get so gaga over these kinds of things. If they're going to write highly emotional press-releases, full of hyperbole, announcing some stellar event, it better be something that spellbinds me or I'll never believe anything they say again.

I want to see something astonishing; something I don't have to crane my neck for hours trying to find. I don't want to waste my time standing around in my backyard looking like a fool, only to see some stellar event fizzle in front of my cynical and skeptical eyeballs.

Rarely are these much-hyped events as advertised. They usually turn out to be some pathetically dull point of light in the sky that, had I not been worked - up into a fevered frenzy by the astronomers' hyperbole-laden prose - I wouldn't have noticed at all.

Astronomers need to think more. Most of us don't have telescopes or highly-trained astronomical eyes. From now on, I hope they don't froth at the mouth about these astronomical non-events and get the press in uproar too. The press over-reports anyway and sometimes I actually believe the press, for whatever reason, and I get excited too - like last night.

There I was, running around in the freezing air, at exactly 8:43PM,, looking, I imagine, like a real idiot. You can bet that the neighbors were treated to a big dose of schadenfreude. I hope they enjoyed it. I didn't.

I turned my frozen face upward and spent an hour staring at the sky waiting to see the gates of heaven open - only to see some blurry, black shadow slowly cross the cratered face of the hunger-moon.

I waited and watched, eagerly (and stupidly) hoping beyond hope to see some tiny glint of color.

I would have accepted any color. Even a subtle, muted tint of color. A pale rose perhaps? A fetid green? I drab bluish color? A pale yellow-orange might have been nice. Turquoise would have been wonderful even if I don't know what it looks like. I would have loved to see a turquoise moon but I would have been delighted with a dull, sanguine one.

Oh but I would have literally gasped at turquoise.

What I saw was exactly what I could have seen on any other ordinary night if I had taken my hand and moved it slowly from left to right and blotted out the moon with it. I am utterly disappointed I didn't see the promised sanguine moon. A moon that had been rendered blood-red by the polluted and dusty atmosphere of earth. You do know, don't you,  that the polluted atmosphere is the one lasting, ethereal monument to humanity's grievous and greedy, self-serving activities? Alas, even our filthy air couldn't tease the moon into turning red. What a pity.

I must admit though, I'm most devastated this morning, not because the moon didn't turn red, but because the moon did not wax turquoise - a color I really wanted to see.

I feel stupid. The astronomers' promises of a turquoise moon turned out to be no more substantial than the promises of shyster, snake oil salesmen. I believed them. I feel duped.

Even a little twinge of turquoise would have delighted me right down to my cynical core. Though I don't know what turquoise looks like, I know that I didn't see any last night.

I stood outside in the freezing  minus-five-degree air, stupidly gazing up into the sky  hoping to see an amazing stellar show. I froze to death waiting to see a sanguine moon turn turquoise on a cloudless, frigid winter night. I saw neither red or turquoise. I saw nothing at all but a shadow eat slowly away at the moonlight and then retreat slowly - revealing the same old face of the moon I've seen thousands of times before.

This morning I feel my cynicism vindicated and my neck sore.

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