Saturday, March 3, 2007

Eclipse

There is going to be an eclipse of the moon tonight.  The amazing thing is that it can be predicted right down to the minute (second, even) And...the prediction was made years ago.  And the next eclipse in six months or so...and so on...for years to come. 

Who does the math on this stuff?  And how did they do it before computers?

My grandfather told me that when he was in college in the 1890's, a new comet was discovered.  All the undergraduates in astronomy  gathered at the observatory and as soon as it's position had been plotted by three observations...they all went to work and plotted it's orbit around the sun.  How that works I cannot fathom....but, oh, my,  how they could have used one of our simplest lap tops.

I won't see the eclipse tonight.  It will be over by the time the moon rises over the Sierrra Nevadas.  Unlike a solar eclipse, when the moon blocks the light from the sun, it can be observed by anyone who can see the moon.  A solar eclipse can be observed only from a narrow path that the moon's shadow makes over the face of the earth. 

Why?  Because the moon is smaller than the earth, you see.  (You don't see?  Ah, well.)

Anyway, I am up at five am..which is all right because I went to bed at ten pm.  That is seven hours sleep, and with an afternoon nap, I will be all right. Our fellow-b logger, Karen, (Mavarin) seems to get by on no sleep.  I don't know how she does it.

2 comments:

garnett109 said...

If I'm up I'll watch it . Thanks!

tellsg said...

No eclipse planned here but I hope you really enjoy yours.  I have only seen one in my life and it was a couple of years ago now.  The whole office was so excited and we all had our special little glasses to wear so we didn't damage our sight.  Hugs.  Terry x