On Jan. 20, 2019, the moon passed through Earth’s shadow in a total lunar eclipse. This is the only total lunar eclipse that we will have in 2019. Lunar eclipses can occur only during a full moon, and this one was extra special because it was also a supermoon. A supermoon occurs when the moon is full and closest to Earth in orbit.
The moon truly was a “supermoon”. When it rose over the horizon, it looked like an immense ball in the heavens. It was huge and it dwarfed the vegetation beneath it. I realize that its size was a function of the effect that the horizon has on my mind. It is explained that when the moon is near the horizon, we perceive it to be farther away from us than when it is high in the sky. But since the moon is actually the same size, our minds make it look bigger when it is near the horizon to compensate for the increased distance. No matter the mental, physical, psychological or scientific cause for the size of the moon when it appears at the horizon, it was enormous last evening.
We watched the recent eclipse of the sun, a solar eclipse, and saw the moon block the sun, with the black moon surrounded by the blazing light that emanates from the sun’s surface. The total lunar eclipse is much different.
When there is a total lunar eclipse, our planet slides between the sun and the moon. For the eclipse to be total, the moon has to be in perfect alignment with the sun and Earth, with the moon on the opposite side of Earth from the sun.
When the full moon moves into Earth’s shadow, it darkens, but it doesn’t disappear. Sunlight passing through Earth’s atmosphere lights the moon so that it appears to be a red coppery color.
According to Jackie Faherty, an astrophysicist at the American Museum of Natural History:
If you were standing on the surface of the moon when this event was happening, and you were staring back at the Earth, what you would see is this beautiful reddish-orangish tinted ring.
We went outside in the below-freezing temperatures to see what we could of this lunar event. Unfortunately, clouds were moving in so we could not see the full eclipse, but we did see its beginning as the earth moved into position!
Thankfully, numerous pictures can be found on the Internet so that we can see this picture of God’s handiwork even if clouds obscured it from our vision. This picture was taken by a telescope at the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, California.
The Psalmist said:
“Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars!”
” The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.“
One of the things that affected me, even when watching the beginning of the eclipse when clouds were filtering in, was the silence of the night. This incredible display of nature was going on above me, high in the heavens, without sound, without fanfare, just doing what God ordained to be done.
As I put my head on the pillow, I thought about the eclipse and how silently the event was unfolding, how gloriously rhythmic nature is in its movements, how amazingly dependent we are on the clockwork movement of nature, and how fragile we are when compared to the glories that God manifests in His creation.
Surely, the heavens do declare the glory of God.
Let our lips join the heavens as we glorify God all our days. As the Westminster Shorter Catechism says:
1. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.
Father, I praise You for all the marvelous works in creation. I praise You for all the wonderful works given to us through the Lord Jesus Christ. I praise You for all the truths expressed through the Holy Spirit in Your Word. Thank You for the beauty of Your creation. I pray that I would glorify You today, and all the days that You grant to me.