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Lunar Eclipse – Africa Style.

June 17th, 2011 No comments
Rising moon in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe

Rising moon in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe

It’s always cool when you discover that through serendipity, you find yourself with more than you bargained for… in a good way. I was recently winding down a group safari that took us to some amazing remote locations in Zambia and Zimbabwe. Arriving back for dinner on the day before the scheduled end of our trip, we learned that the dinner would be served out in the middle of a large pan just outside the camp, very near a watering hole that is frequented by various animals looking to quench their thirst. Talk began to drift to the topic of an impending lunar eclipse, and many began to speculate about what this would look like when viewed from this remote region of Africa with very little ambient light to interfere with this event. Crowding close to the boma fire, we enjoyed the illumination provided by the full moon. Shadows appeared beneath the Acacia and Teak trees looking much like they would during the middle of the day. A Giant Eagle Owl called out from a tree 50 meters from the warmth of the fire, while a Side-Striped Jackal barked in response. Tipping back my Zambezi beer, I watched as the base of the moon began to go dark. By the time we finished dinner, the moon was now completely dark, basked in an eerie subtle orange glow.

Full lunar eclipse - June 15, 2011

Full lunar eclipse - June 15, 2011

The remaining group packed up, and all but 4 of us retired for the night. Armed with a few beers, some chairs, and a few remaining scraps of firewood, we settled in for the remainder of the lunar show. Slowly the pale moon began to lighten at the bottom, looking like a strange floating ball in the sky. The arriving illumination slowly changing the landscape from one of darkness and mystery to one of clarity and brightness. The landscape took on a tone of that of a toy model, with little evidence of depth and scale. The whole savannah looked flat, almost like a movie set. One of the coolest visual scenes I have ever taken in. As the evidence of the eclipse faded back into the still impressive full moon, we packed up the last of our gear, extinguished the fire, and headed back to camp. It’s not often that all the essential ingredients of a situation fall into place and allow for the maximum enjoyment of an event, but here I was – staring up into the African sky at a rare event surrounded by old friends, new friends, and a canopy of stars. Good stuff.

Lunar Eclipse Fading - ZImbabwe

Lunar Eclipse Fading - ZImbabwe

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