Did you make time to see the Perigee Moon? Well I did and I saw more than I was expecting!
Let me tell you about it
There was an announcement in the media that we would be able to witness one of those rare natural phenomenons. The Moon would be closer to the Earth than normal and the point on the Moon’s orbit closest to Earth is called the perigee. So when a Full Moon or New Moon occurs close to the Moon’s perigee, it is known as a Supermoon. The Supermoon on November 14, 2016, was the closest a Full Moon has been to Earth since January 26, 1948. A colleague and naval navigator took time to let his co-workers know the details; what time it would rise and in what direction in relation to Sydney where I live.
Many people were talking about it as it was going to be something different and interesting and potentially memorable.
So on the day, I headed down to the beach intent on finding a spot on the headland so that I would have a clear, uninterrupted view out to sea of the rising moon.
It never occurred to me that everyone would have the same idea. As I walked down to the beach the pavements and roadways grew full of people all heading to the beach, interested in this natural event!
Anyway, I dodged and weaved past tripod toting people all looking for a place to set up. Folk were massing; cameras, phones and video recorders at the ready. Everyone was facing out to sea and there was a huge air of expectation.
The sky did not look favourable. A weather front sat in the northern sky full of dense stratus layered cloud. In the south and western sky, the sun was busy tracking its way towards the distant horizon behind billowing cumulous, leaving us in gathering twilight.
I worked my way down on to the rocky ledges above a turbulent sea and positioned myself ready for the moonrise. I checked my compass and with some disappointment realised that the moon would be rising behind the dense stratus cloud. So it was with some consternation that the appointed moonrise time came and went, with no Perigee Moon to be seen!
Look behind you!
I looked around.
Everyone I could see, stood and sat in family and friendly groups with their eyes cast out to the East. They were waiting, waiting, and waiting!
I looked above them and realised what they were all missing. The wonder to behold was not in the eastern sky, it was in the western sky. The setting sun’s rays cast brilliant light on the cloudy east and southern sky such that it glowed with gold’s and purples and blues. It was truly wonderful and memorable and nobody was looking. As the sun dropped towards and below the western horizon, the sky was in the sort of colourful turmoil. The sort that makes you smile and be content.
However, out to the east, the drifting front swallowed up the horizon and then, as if by magic, the moon suddenly appeared through a slash in the cloud. We saw it, partly masked by cloud and no different really to how it normally looks.
People drifted off. I checked Facebook and saw posts of the moon as others saw it, further south with clear sky. Unsurprisingly, it did look bigger and brighter than normal, but nobody was reporting the true wonder of the evening. Hence, the majority seemed to have missed the sunset I witnessed because they were all facing the other way. They were unaware of what was happening above and behind them.
It got me thinking. So, how many times do we miss something because we are looking for something else? Do we set out to do something and have our expectations dashed when it fails to happen? How often do we miss an opportunity to do or see something else? Whilst it is important to focus your attention on something, maybe we need to be alive to what else might be happening?
I really was buoyed to have seen an impressive twilight sky. It was the Perigee Moon that caused me to be there and I did miss seeing it in its unfettered splendour, but I was not dissappointed!
What have you seen by chance through simply turning around?