Though I set an alarm for 5:45 am, Juana and I rise before it goes off in anticipation of a rare event: the confluence of two full moons a month (blue), close proximity to Earth (super), and a full lunar eclipse. Looking out our kitchen window in the Florida Keys while the coffee brews, the moon is a bright circle appearing above the power lines and palm trees against a cloudless background. We decide to drive to a small parking area near Anne’s Beach in Islamorada, FL, where we are spending the next month or so. It’s a cool morning by Keys’ standards—58 degrees—but a far cry from the 9-degree temperature it is this morning back in Connecticut. We bundle up with a sweatshirt and socks to brave the chill.
We aren’t the only ones who have come to view the eclipse as a few other cars (including one from the County Sheriff) park with their hoods facing the West. For us in the East, the best time to see the effects of this phenomena is just before 7 am so we arrive around 6:30 to view the progression.
The moon is still high above the power lines that split the horizon into different zones. The color of the moon has started to change from a lightbulb-like bright white to a dull yellow. A large bluish halo surrounds our closest celestial neighbor. Its decent into Florida Bay appears to be accelerating and with that perceived increased speed comes light that reveals the land and sea. Peering into the bay, the effects of Hurricane Irma are few as the mangrove trees are lush with leaves. A grouping of traps for fish (or crustaceans) emerge from the dark as little islands of mesh. A lone pelican flies off a mangrove and heads toward the ocean. The bay is calm with few ripples and dark.
The moon has dropped below all the power lines and starts its metamorphosis. It has started its shift to the red. A shadowy smudge appears on the upper left corner and whisker-like lines pop out from the sides. The moon starts its dive toward the sea, but before it reaches the water it fades in luminance and all of a sudden disappears. It is gone. Juana has captured its evolution.