John Pazmino 
 NYSkies Astronomy Inc
 1994 January 1 
    It sure looked like a total washout that Sunday [28 November 
1993]. All day a winter storm blanketed the City causing coastal 
flooding, wind damage, and power outages. The clouds hung low pouring 
out winddriven rain. Boats moved into havens, but a barge ran aground 
and a tugboat overturned. Surely there'll be no point in trying to 
watch this eclipse! 
    Indeed at 5:30PM on that Sunday, the 28th of November, the skies 
over Brooklyn were still spewing out rain and gusts. But I had to open 
the Brooklyn [College] Observatory just in case some hardy Association 
member shows up for the scheduled eclipse watch. My father drove me to 
the College and I signed in at the security gate. The guard knew of 
the overnight stay at the Observatory and assured me that any other 
astronomers will be directed to the Observatory. 
    As I walked across the campus I stepped over fresh puddles, rain-
slicked pavements, and broken tree branches. But then I saw a shadow 
of me on the ground. I looked up and -- oh, no! -- the sky was 
clearing and the Full Moon beamed brightly down!! Litterally in twenty 
minutes the weather turned from a disgusting storm into a clear and 
calm winter night!! 
    By 6:15PM I opened the Observatory. The Full Moon filled the dome 
with brilliant beams. All around there was blue sky peppered with the 
brighter stars. If I had somehow been dropped into the Observatory and 
saw this scene I would never know that barely half an hour earlier I 
was riding thru a snotty rain with the wipers flinging drops off of 
the windshield. 
    I waited for the other astronomers. Their arrival was planned for 
6PM to 7PM for two reasons. First it made control easier for the 
security office being that the campus is officially closed on Sunday 
night. Second, transit schedules fall off sharply late at night on 
Sunday with a ha'hour or so between trains. 
    I heavily felt that people would have by mid afternoon turned off 
any hope of seeing this eclipse and opted not to come. But there was 
the brilliant Moon up there in the east. I swept out the rooms. Dirt 
sifted in since the preceding Wednesday. I stopped up then for a thoro 
cleaning in preparation for tonight's bunkin for the eclipse. I also 
moved excess furniture to a storage room. During all this there was 
that great big Moon up there bathing the room with fulsome light. 
    So I unpacked my camera and fitted it to the main scope. I trued 
up the finder scope with an additional bracket. The pictures went off 
smoothly. I shot the east and west halves of the Moon separately being 
that at prime focus the Moon slightly overfills the 35mm frame. I then 
set up for eyepiece projection to capture views of the craters and 
bright spots. Under magnification, however, the Moon's image boiled 
fiercely, likely from upper air wind. Any photos would be smeared into 
uselessness. So I pulled down the camera and inspected the Moon with 
various eyepieces. 
    It was a farout sight! Usually I don't get to view the Full Moon 
under high power. The magnification, up to 292X, diluted the dazzle 
and the minutest of rays, rills, spots were tacksharp. The boiling, 
tho vigorous, did not impede eyeball appreciation of the Moon. It was 
now about 7:30PM and no one else arrived. Really, would anyone come? 
    At 7:45PM there was loud rapping at the door. Nope, not one of us 
astronomers. A guard stopping up to check on things. He was surprised 
that I was the only one there. His jobsheet showed a group here. I 
explained that due to the hideous weather all the preceding day pretty 
much anyone fixing to come tonight was scared off. I let him in anyway 
to look around. His rounds never included the Observatory before and 
this is his first visit to it. He was a short mid aged fellow who knew 
about the eclipse from the newspaper. He said he saw one from his 
native Cuba and understood what this coming one should look like. The 
eclipse was then still hours away so I gave him a walkaround of the 
place and let him examine the Moon thru the main scope. He studied the 
disc for several minutes in amazement and we chatted a bit about the 
Moon in general. It was now 8PM. 
    I live near the College and altho the Observatory is a most 
fitting place for eclipse viewing, it seemed daft to stay there all 
night by myself. With no other attendees, now a full hour after the 
scheduled arrival time, I decided to close the Observatory. I could go 
home, rest up, and see the eclipse from my own yard. 
    The facility duly buttoned down I called my father, who soon 
arrived at the Glenwood gate of the campus to pick me up. I explained 
to the gatekeeper that the Observatory is now closed for the night and 
there is no more activity there. He said he'll advise any latecomers 
and in any event the gate closes for the night at 11PM. 
    At home I set up in my yard. I planned a series of photos thru my 
600mm f8 solid cat and several with a 50mm f1.4 lens. The latter were 
for capturing the Moon flanked by the Hyades and Pleiades in totality. 
    The air stayed very calm except for an occasional tree-rustling 
breeze. I napped until 11PM to catch the late paenumbral phase and 
first contact. The paenumbra was quite obvious at 11:20PM, when I 
first stepped outside, as a brown ragged mistiness over the entire 
eastern side of the Moon. The umbra came onto the Moon as a dark gray 
shadow without noticeable tint or detail. 
    I then napped until 12:40AM to view the totality. When I went 
outside the Moon was visible thruout the umbra, now steeped in a dark 
orange-brown hue. During totality the Moon was bright in the sky by 
eye, but I felt it was a shade darker than a pure textbook totality. 
The southern side of the Moon was much lighter than elsewhere, giving 
a 'crescent' aspect to the disc. By eye in this southern zone the 
maria were plainly discernible while the rest of the disc was a 
uniform brown-orange cast. 
    The 600mm lens and camera made an excellent low power scope 
offering a spectacular two-degree field around the Moon. With a thin 
screen there is minimal impedence of light between the lens and the 
eye. Thru this the maria were identifiable over the whole disc with no 
trouble at all. I deliberately chose this setup to avoid having one 
photo-only rig and a separate eyeball instrument. 
    My father came out at about 1:15AM and inspected the Moon thru the 
camera and by eye for about 20 minutes. He was impressed at how 
beautifully the Pleiades and Hyades framed the Moon. We bantered about 
the eclipse of last December [1992], which he saw from home while I 
was at the Observatory, and how the Moon then almost disappeared in 
    He and I looked around and noted how really transparent the air 
was. stars to 4-1/2 magnitude could be seen, including many I could 
not offhand name. We picked out stars in southern Canis Major, Puppis, 
Lepus, Hydra, and Monoceros. The whole sickle of Leo was rising thru 
trees in the east and some stars in Lynx were overhead. The Orion 
Nebula, Rosette Cluster, and Beehive were clearly in sight. I in the 
following afternoon, with a planetarium program, assessed that the sky 
admitted stars of 4.7 to our eyes. From Brooklyn, a nabe the size of 
    From my yard there is no open sky. All my views were thru the 
leafless branches of overhanging trees. The north and northeast were 
blocked by shredded clouds and the surrounding houses blocked the 
southwest and northwest. The Moon cleared the roof of my house. 
    I switched to the 50mm lens for a skyscape of the Moon. Thru the 
camera the Moon shrank almost to a point and I studied its brightness 
against the stars in the sky. It handily outshone Sirius. To assign a 
magnitude rating to the eclipsed disc, I hazard -2. 
    When totality ended I napped until 3AM for the late partial 
phases. By now the Moon moved into the west and shone down my driveway 
and the stars were blotted out by its growing brilliance. A few small 
isolated shreds of cloud drifted in the south but never threatened the 
eclipse. When the umbra cleared from the Moon I shot my last pictures 
and turned in for the rest of the night. 
    I had leave from work on Monday, having signed for it a week or so 
earlier. Good thing I did -- I slept solidly until lO:3OAM! 
    The photos, Fujichrome slides, were processed on Tuesday. They are 
excellent, save for a few underexposures. The skyscapes are specially 
lovely. They show the Moon, Hyades, Pleiades entangled in the tree 
branches just as they stood over our house. 
    When I looked out the window upon waking up I saw a murky hazy day 
with a weak Sun. Rain was forecast for the late afternoon. My father 
said that when he woke up at around 6AM the dawn sky was cloud-
covered. But for us: What an eclipse!