A Thousand Words

Angry Red Moon
I apologize that I don't have a high-end camera so that I might show you what I saw last night. These photos lifted from the web are only faint shadows of what I will describe for you. But words are my craft so perhaps it is appropriate that I capture the experience with my digits instead of digitally.

Sunset last night was just north of the Golden Gate, after the sun had set behind the Marin Headlands the sky glowed with an orange/blue layered effect. The horizon grew a brighter and deeper orange and the sky above remained illuminated in shades of blue. Of course, I have quite a view from the apartment, I can see nearly fifty miles of San Francisco Bay coastline on each side of the Bay. The City of San Francisco sparkled in the middle of the tableau. 

It was then that I noticed a thin crescent moon just to the south of the City, I knew the moon was setting and wondered if it would plunge into the cityscape below. As I watched the lunar progress it slid lower and slightly further north on its way to the sea. The moon was indeed going to set right over the towers of downtown San Francisco. As I watched through my Super Giant Astronomical Binoculars I glanced down to see with my naked eyes where the moon might impact the City when I noticed something out of place, something very orange. 

It seems that in celebration of the baseball SF Giants making the MLB playoffs, several landmarks have had their normal lighting changed to Giant orange. Coit Tower was one of those attractions, so last night it glowed brilliantly orange. When I looked up again the white crescent had begun to yellow and I realized that the moon takes on yellow and orange hues as it declines through the atmosphere.

You perhaps can imagine what happened next, in the now black sky, a very orange crescent descended directly over a very orange tower and all of my desires to capture the moment peaked. It was simply visually stunning . . . and just when I thought I was seeing natural perfection linked with man-made construction, the final passage began.

As the moon lowered into the atmosphere of the ocean behind the SF peninsula, it also descended into the heat footprint of the City. In the last ten minutes the sharply defined edges of the crescent began to mottle, the sky and the moon began to blur together, the brilliant orange moon became an organic cantaloupe with bumps and depressions along its leading edge.

I made one more false assumption that the moon would sink behind the City as the sun had sunk beyond the Headlands but instead with the double atmosphere of the Pacific and the City, the lower edge of the crescent moon simply dissolved just as the Cheshire Cat had. Slowly the moon disappeared as the dark below consumed it. As the last third stood just above Telegraph Hill, anyone looking up for the first time might have wondered at the strange triangular cloud dimly orange in the night sky.

Wish you had been here to see it with me.