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July 12, 2018 By Bill Rawlinson

SYZYGY Dizzy

The alarm was set for 5:10 a.m., but the brain went off at 5:00 a.m.! I could make that sacrifice! After all this was the BIG day! First time in 150 years… and we were not going to miss it! Miss what? The “eclipse of a super blue blood moon!” I didn’t know what all that meant, but the media was ecstatic in anticipation. Betty did not share in the excitement, but if Bill were excited perhaps it would be worthwhile to freeze to death while watching this extraordinary celestial event!

Just to make sure of the date, time and location, I pulled on my bathrobe and slippers and stepped outside. Sure enough, there was the moon, a dull burnt orange sinking into the western sky in a direct line with the lawn lamp of the neighbor across the street. Dang! I knew I should have kept that BB gun I got as a teenage kid. Well? We’ll tough it out! Betty slipped on a down jacket over her pajamas, pulled up the hood and was ready to go. I put on a quilted ski jacket and a black toque given to me years ago by a Scottish friend. Next question? Where to place the folding chairs? The driveway did not work as it slanted downhill. A cork oak on the front lawn obscured viewing from the sidewalk. Solution: open the garage door and sit at the opening! Yes, it was a great view of the house across the street.

The minutes dragged by and so did the eclipse. It was soon apparent that sitting there clad with thin pajama bottoms demonstrated poor planning. No! We are not going back in for more cover. We just might miss one of our curious neighbors stumbling down the street trying to find a darkened corner . . . or even one of those strange dog owners who walk their pet pooches.

I knew that a “blue moon” was a misleading term, but why doesn’t the moon have a silvery light as it says in the song. Well, it’s called “Rayleigh scattering” caused by the longer wavelengths of reds and oranges. That’s not very poetic, but it has potential for a future limerick.

The moon sank low on the horizon and finally darkened in the misty atmosphere. We were expecting a trumpet blast from some exuberant neighbor, but all we heard was a faint chirp from a passing bird. Betty turned to me and softly said, “Why did we do this?” I triumphantly replied, “For the bragging rights!”

Editor’s Note: SYZYGY is the nearly straight-line configuration of three celestial bodies (such as the sun, moon, and earth during a solar or lunar eclipse) in a gravitational system. Now you know.

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