Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Really Full Moon

In the South Carolina Salt Marshes
33 08.27 N 079 19.85 W

Yesterday we came down the Wacamaw River through a vast cyprus swamp region. It is much like the upper end of the Pasquotank River between the Dismal Swamp and Elizabeth City. Cyprus swamps are beautiful.

Now we are in the northermost extensive salt marsh region on the ICW. From here all the way down to Saint Augustine Florida, we are treated to a different kind of beauty. Innumerable waterways crisscross every which way. Visible to us are the tops of swamp grass for miles in each direction. Very nice.

This morning we departed 15 minutes before dawn, as is our standard practice. The nearly full moon was beautiful 15 degrees higher than yesterday's moonrise.

Have you ever seen a really full moonrise? Sure you say; but odds are you're wrong. It's a trick question. I've only seen one in my lifetime.

The moon is full when it is exactly opposite the sun. At that moment, a straight line through the center of the moon and the center of the sun passes through the center of the earth (in 2D). At the full moment, for some people on earth it is noon, for others it is midnight and for a luck few it is the time of sunrise or sunset. For those at the right place on the earth's surface, they can see a simultaneous sunset and moonrise only if they can see the horizon on the east and the west, and if there are no clouds. The number of opportunities to meet all those conditions in a lifetime are limited. I only saw it once.

It was around October 5, 1979. I sailed my boat Jennifer up to the south end of Valcour Island on Lake Champlain to make a fire and cook supper. With me were my father Jerry, my son John and my friend Walt. From that point we had unobstructed views to the East, South and West. The sky was cloudless. Our reward was a view of a truly spectacular simultaneous moonrise and sunset. The moon looked orange and enormous, and the sun was fiery red. It was a wonderful sight. I'll never forget it. The image is burned in my brain.

May you be so lucky as to see that sight for yourself some day.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Type your comments here.