Spin the Globe with Justin Butner

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Moon Over Moomba

May 5

When the campus breakfast is open from 5:30 till 7:00 it is a sign that not many people are going to be around after 10:00 at night. This means that social time at the camp is limited. It also means that when you are going to do something you assume you shouldn’t be doing, you don’t have to stay up very late to do it.

Tonight marks a collision of a couple factors. One is the supermoon, the closest full moon of the year. The other is the peak of the Eta Aquarid meteor shower, Earth’s passing through the debris left from Halley’s Comet. They work together in a way, but also cancel out to some degree.

On top of the dune to the east of camp I ducked behind a rise and found a seat. The clearing of sand extended a little ways in all directions ensuring that no night creature lurked too close by. The brilliant full moon above actually shone so bright that it washed out until my eyes adjusted to looking at it. The stars were still more visible than they are back in the suburbs of DC that I used to call home.

The air was cold on my freshly shaved face, though it smelled of nothing. The desert in winter is still hot in the days, but the nights don’t keep much heat.

The walk up the dune had been an easy one, certainly compared to my other attempt a couple weeks back during the new moon. The amount of light that the moon provides is staggering and I think it amazes me each time I need to navigate by moonlight. Last time my headlamp had been useless against the vast expanse of nothingness and dark that extended in all directions. This time it was useless to illuminate anything much more than the moon already had.

So I sat in the cold and stared up at the sky. No meteors of note passed overhead in the time I was looking. But it almost didn’t feel like the point of the exercise. The point was to get out. To see the plant from the dune at night, to look beyond into the desert and see how far I could gaze. I stared off at the horizon, noticing it was in all directions lit up like the sun was starting to turn the darkness to a lighter blue with hints of energy. This glow was all the product of the moon reflecting off the sands in the distance.

I walked back home in quiet silence, under the moon and the seemingly dim street lights.

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This entry was posted on May 19, 2012 by in Australia, South Australia (Adelaide).

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