Lunar Eclipse and Orion, West Bergholt

oil on canvas, framed, 1220mm x 910mm
private collection

A midwinter total eclipse of the moon turning clouds gun metal grey and the earth a soft, black-grey, as though the sky were very slowly blinking. In this rare, ancient light, scattered electric lights from houses and cars brightened. On the horizon the orange light of Colchester showed under an immense sky and indifferent constellations.

Right : Orion with three stars for his belt and Betelgeuse (the brightest red star) upper left with Riegel lower right

Lower centre : Canis Minor

Left : The moon is in Gemini with Castor & Pollux to the far left


In a total eclipse the Earth is directly between the sun and the moon, but the moon it isn't in shade. Sunlight is bent through Earths atmosphere turning it red before it falls on the moon.
The amount of redness is described on the Danjon scale. This eclipse was about 3 on a scale of 0 (very dark) to 4 (lightish coppery/orange), which means that skies were fairly clear that night and there was not much cloud or particulate matter to stop light passing through. After a volcanic eruption lunar eclipses can be much darker than this.



On display at King's College Cambridge, with summer solstice moonrise, West Bergholt.

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