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Take This Car and Drive Downstate

I decided yesterday that I really wanted to see the lunar eclipse in all its glory, or at least as much glory as could be gotten here in WA, which wasn’t as much as I would have liked, given that totality was reached not long after sunset. My initial plan was to drive a bit away from Perth’s lights and set up camp (metaphorically speaking, at least), with one of the hills around Toodyay being a prime candidate.

That was a great plan until this satellite image came to pass:

Hmmm, that cloud isn’t going anywhere, is it?

So, foiled by mother nature, I decided to get even and drive far enough northeast to get out from under the blanket of clouds that apparently ruined viewing for Perthites. Ultimately, I ended up atop Marshall Rock, which is near Bencubbin. You can view the approximate route I took with the help of some Google Maps goodness — while not the most direct route, it was largely dictated by me chasing the blue sky I could see to the northeast by the time I’d reached Dowerin. Took a darned sight less than 4 hours, 54 minutes, too. (Side note: I’ve thought more than once that storm chasing would be an interesting hobby to get into, but I don’t think I’d dare show my face now at any sort of storm chasing gathering with my first chasing experience actually being for blue skies.)

Once atop said rock, I met a lovely retired couple from New South Wales who were camping in the park and had decided to come to watch the eclipse from the best vantage point as well. So, we sat, we waited for the sun to go down, we worried for a while that it was all a giant hoax, then we discovered that the moon’s appearance had simply been delayed by what looked like some dust in the atmosphere combined with the relatively low brightness of the moon at that point.

Unfortunately, that dust/low brightness situation seems to have put paid to my attempts to photograph the eclipse, even with the usual night mode settings. In related news, I think I’m ready to accept donations to the buy Adam a camera that doesn’t suck fund. Fortunately, approximately eleventy billion people have posted photos in various places, so I shall instead point to this photo on Flickr by evilhamaya as a reasonable approximation of what I could see.

Except, you know, I was sitting on a giant rock in the eastern Wheatbelt. That has to count for something.

Speaking of, I do have one photo which at least shows what the view from the rock looked like before sunset:

The view from Marshall Rock, sans lunar eclipse.

Yeah, I know. It’s not the same. But still, the eclipse was awesome, I’m glad I went to the trouble of driving there (and back, since I have to be at uni at 8 am tomorrow and hence couldn’t stay the night in Bencubbin), and as an added bonus, the Milky Way looked even more incredible than usual, given the lack of ambient light out there.

(Satellite image © Commonwealth of Australia 2007, Bureau of Meteorology, originally sourced from here.)

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