John Pazmino
 NYSkies Astronomy Inc

2019 January 22 

    Winter 2018-2019 in New York City did not favor observing special 
celestial events. We lost several to cloud or rain since November. 
These included meteor showers, comet wirtamen, and Globe at Night 
    The real big event for January 2019 was the total lunar eclipse. 
In the NYSkies region it began in late  night of the 20th and ended in 
owl hours of the 21st.  Will clouds smother it? 
    Weather was indifferent in the days before the eclipse. Forecasts 
warned that there could be a major snow storm on the 20th, with clouds 
persisting into the 21st.

    This particular eclipse was special for me. It was the next one by 
the Rule-of-19 after the 21 January 2000 eclipse. at that time Hania, 
was in late phase of lumphoma. she and I rang in the millennium from 
her Manhattan roof garden as we watched the Times Square fireworks. We 
wanted to watch the lunar eclipse on the 21st, as her final one of her 
life. Hania saw several lunar eclipses from the City, some with me. 
    We psyched up for the eclipse and set up in her garden. 
    The eclipse was totally clouded out.
    Hania passed away a few months later. 

    NYSkies prepared for this eclipse at its Seminar on 4 January with 
a refresher at the meeting of the 18th.  While every astronomer there 
was ready for the show, all worried about the clouds, so prevalent so 
far in January. 
    I at the Seminars urged the members to actually go out and see 
what's happening. Do not rely on weather forecasts. Instances occurred 
when in spite of adverse forecasts the sky cleared up, like some 
miracle. The capital example for me was the solar eclipse in 1979 in 
Winnipeg, Canada. All the night before the eclipse the TV and radio 
predicted total overcast for the eclipse. On eclipse morning, as we 
set out for the viewing site, the sky was totally free of clouds! 
There was a thin haze, but it did not interfere with the eclipse. 

Krakatoa eruption 
    On 24 December 2018 the volcano 'Child of Krakatoa' in Indonesia 
erupted. Some news accounts assimilated this volcano into the great of 
eruption from the very Krakatoa in the 1880S The current event filled 
the atmosphere with ash and dust to potentially obstruct illumination 
of the umbra for this lunar eclipse. Weaker illumination on the Moon 
from volcano ejections occurred in some previous eclipses. 
    A few days earlier, on the 22nd, the US government entered a 
prolonged curtailment of service.  Many 'nonessential' offices were 
short-staffed or closed. 
    In normal times for upcoming lunar eclipses I check with NOAA for 
news about atmospheric ash/dust from volcanos. In early January I 
tried  calling NOAA by phone. I was informed that the volcano-
monitoring office was closed for the curtailment. I visited its 
associated web. It had a banner advising of its suspension for the 
    I didn't inquire at volcano-monitoring programs in other countries 
like Japan, Russia, India due to general busyness. I went into the 
eclipse accepting what may happen. 

    For this lunar eclipse I checked the sky on and off in afternoon 
to see no gross clouds. The sky was blue with a thin haze. 
    In place of obstructive clouds there were temperatures around -15C 
and strong wind. The wind rattled windows and shoved loose outdoor 
fixtures. I don't know the chill factor from this wind but it was, uh, 
COLD outdoors. 
    I watched the Moon thru closed windows  in early night. The panes 
were iced over from the low temperature and I had to rub off the thin 
coating to get a clear view.
    The Moon was huge and bright. She rounded perigee a couple days 
before, spinning off silliness about a 'blood supermoon'.Unless you 
monitor the Moon or take serial pictures there is no casually obvious 
enlargement of the Moon. 

First observation 
    i set out my 7x35 binoculars and a newer digital camera. The plan 
was to make sorties out every so often without bothering with a 
telescope, however portable. I figured to watch all of the contacts 
plus a view or two in totality. The air was by 22:00 cold and windy. I  
switched brief looks before retreating back into my house. 
    My first excursion outside was at 22:30 EST just before first 
contact. The sky was dark and clear but filled fast-moving with 
scattered clouds.  
    I missed first contact because the Moon was momentarily behind a 
cloud. I didn't notice a paenumbral shading. 
    I took a couple pictures, letting the camera auto-adjust the 
exposure. The wind and cold upset steady handling of the camera, altho 
I leaned against a wall. Hurrying indoors, I inspected the pictures. 
All were spoiled by camera shake. I discarded them and put the camera 

Second observation
    I went out at 22:15 to see a Moon half covered by the umbra. At 
first sight I saw the umbra ws dark gray. In binoculars, and then by 
bare-eye, it was dark orange. 
    There were scattered clouds in the sky but none near the Moon. 
They moved rapidly. 
    I brang my camera out for an other try for pictures. Nope, the 
wind and cold were just too much. I didn't open the camera. I left it 
in my coat pocket. 

Third observation 
    I went out at 23:40 EST, leaving my camera inside. I will view 
entirely b eye from now on.. I caught 2nd contact.
    Wind and cold persisted. Scattered clouds moved about, but not 
near the Moon. The Moon was plainly seen by bare eye without having ro 
hunt for her.  This eclipse will be darker than the classical one, but 
not really dark. 
    I waited a few seconds to inspect the Moon in binoculars. She was 
a dark orange tint with diffuse maria.        

Fourth observation
    I waited until near mid eclipse for my next sortie. I went out at 
00:15 EST, now on the 21st. The Moon was in a clear sky in high south. 
A couple clouds were in the west well away from the Moon. The air was 
dark and clear with transparency of 4 too 4-1/2  magnitude. I spotted 
a couple stars in Cancer but nothing of the Beehive cluster.  
    The Moon was plainly visible by eye without hunting for her. She 
had a dark orange, like rust, color. The upper, northern, limb was 
much brighter than the rest of the disc. 
    In binoculars 
    I felt the illusion of the Moon as globular, not a flat disc. This 
illusion is common in bright lunar eclipses. In dark eclipses i did 
not see the illusion. The Moon looked like a stained flat plate This 
current eclipse is the darkest one i can remember where the illusion 
came out. 
    Maria were diffuse patches blending together. I saw none of the 
rayed craters, like Copernicus or Tycho, or other bright lunar 

Danjon rating
    In older times we rated lunar eclipses with the Danjon scale. This 
scale ranks eclipses from 0 as completely blacked out from the sky to 
5 as hardly dark at all, just tinted yellow or copper. I rate this 
eclipse as Danjon 2 to 3. The bright northern limb pushed the needle 
toward 3. The deeply shadowed rest of the Moon pushed it toward 2. 

Fifth observation 
    I went out at 00:40 EST. The Moon was mixed in with broken clouds, 
peeking out in the breaks. i did catch 3rd contact. The umbra in 
binoculars seemed to 'yank' off of the lunar limb, then slide off at 
normal slow pace. 

Sixth observation 
    i stayed indoors until just before 4th contact. I went out at 
00:45 to see the contact as the Moon peeked out between broken clouds. 
I wasn't sure if there was a paenumbral shading after 4th contact. 
    Too much of the sky was cloudy to see any stars near the Moon.
    The cold and wind continued after the eclipse, into daytime of the 
21st. The wind abated in mid afternoon but the temperature stayed in 
the -12C area into the 22nd. 

Meteor hits the Moon! 
    At about 23:41 EST, a couple minutes before 2nd contact, a meteor 
crashed on the Moon! Its collision flash was captured on videos taken 
of the eclipse, some aired as live coverage by news media. This is the 
first time a meteor was observed on the Moon during a lunar eclipse. 
All previous ones were captured in small lunar phases periods by 
dedicated searches. 
    The flash lasted only one or two frames and was beyond eyeball 
recognition. The meteor appeared on several independent films. 
   Time and lunar lat-lon are uncertain due to low-resolution full-
disc scenes and loose time synch of the videos.  

Venus and Jupiter 
    I turned in for the night at about 02:15 with intent to wake up at 
5 or 5:30 AM to watch the appulse of Venus and Jupiter in the dawn 
sky. I missed it for over sleeping. With the 21st a holiday I didn't 
set my alarm and found the Sun way up in the sky when i did wake up. 
it was around 09:30. 

    The weather forecasts were discouraging, with overcast skies, 
maybe even snow or rain. In the stead the sky was actually favorable 
for the eclipse. Clouds that sweeped across the sky did not impede the 
view. Only momentarily was the Moon hidden by a cloud. 
    The air was a classical winter air. I could never have
stayed watch continuously, even with short breaks, for this eclipse