Shoot for the moon - Albuquerque Journal

Shoot for the moon

In terms of rarity or scarcity, lunar eclipses are not exactly either.

Yet the very act of the moon disappearing from the evening sky as the earth passes in front of the sun, casting a shadow that extinguishes our faithful night light, has been filled with myths and legends dating back eons.

Among those, it has been suggested that eating or drinking during the event is a definite no-no, as it has been suggested that both spoil with the shadow’s passing.

Likewise, it’s a great time to wash away the sins accumulated since the last eclipse, so it is a great time to take a bath, scrubbing away all that negativity.

Whatever one’s belief about the phenomenon, there is no disputing the fact that it makes for a wildly special aura, one that can be enjoyed in a place steeped in similar aspects all on its own.

It just so happens that this year’s coming full eclipse on May 15 coincides with the first of the monthly Full Moon Nights at White Sands National Park, when the gates and grounds will remain open until 11 p.m. Backcountry camping has still not been restored to the park in the Tularosa Basin near Alamogordo. The park will have extended hours on each month’s full moon until October.

“There’s nothing unusual about the timing of this lunar eclipse,” Kelly Carroll, White Sands chief of interpretation, wrote in an email. “A total lunar eclipse occurs with a full moon about every 2.5 years.”

And unlike a solar eclipse, which requires special precautions to prevent permanent eye damage, a lunar eclipse requires nothing more than a comfy spot to enjoy the show, which begins shortly before eight, with the total eclipse occurring about 10 p.m.

“Any comfortable and safe outdoor place will be an excellent viewing location,” Carroll wrote. “But it may be a bit more special watching over the dunes at White Sands National Park.”

At White Sands, tucked away in New Mexico’s vast, darkened rural spaces, the stark loneliness of the sparkling white gypsum dunes glitter under the full moon, then gradually fade away as the Earth’s pall slowly nibbles at the moon.

“Even though lunar eclipses are not rare, they are unique and have always been special to humans,” Carroll wrote. “Seeing this wonderful event at White Sands may add to the experience. ”

New York-based multimedia journalist Tiffani Amo wrote this about her experience at White Sands during a lunar eclipse several years ago.

“When all of the color had finally been drained from the day, we waited for darkness … and it didn’t come! As the moon reached higher and higher into the sky, the dunes grew brighter and brighter. It was like someone was adjusting the dimmer on a ceiling light. The moon beamed down and painted our shadows on the sand the same way the sun would on a sunny, summer day.”

An accomplished photographer, Amo had planned to spend the night capturing the moon in its phases of disappearing and appearing, but unfortunately, her newly purchased tripod emerged from the box in pieces.

“I had to do a bit of improv,” she said. “I didn’t get as many photos as I had hoped. You definitely need a tripod and definitely want whatever camera you’re using to have long exposure shots. It’s going to be dark and you want to let as much light in as possible again.”

In addition, she added ruefully, “Test all your equipment before you get there and set up camp.”

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