Pink moon reveals itself to eager gathering
It may come as no surprise that me and the heavens hardly ever get along.
I have aspired to night-sky watching but living in Western Oregon beneath a semi-permanent cloud layer makes it difficult.
So, I took up No. 1 Kid's invitation to go to Ellensburg, Wash., to the Wild Horse Wind Farm to see the rise of the pink moon Sunday night. Have I told you my eyeglasses are broken and I can't see diddly?
To be honest, I didn't see the pink moon when it first came up, though most everybody else did. But by the time the moon had fully risen and was sailing across the night sky, you couldn't miss it. Rosy and eerie.
It is kind of a surprise — a wind and solar farm that is a tourist destination. But Wild Horse took over a sagebrush studded row of hills known as steppe land, planted more sagebrush, protected a funny little cactus that grows there as well as scores of other wild and rare plants, and then planted 149 windmills to harvest wind that rarely stops.
It is open in daylight hours and is a real tourist attraction offering hiking trails and great vistas and, of course, close-up parking for electric cars. You also get a hands-on experience with one of the windmill blades which was damaged in a fall from a truck and placed at the site. You get an idea of how big they are. (We see them being toted east on Interstate 84 nearly every day.) Getting to go to the wind farm at night for the eclipse was a rare opportunity, a reservation-only gathering of about 50 people.
The local busybody (no spite intended, I am sometimes that person) was there, carrying her bird book like a shield, and ready to battle over the number of birds the big blades kill. Though that was neither the time nor place. She took on our host, a woman who works at the wind farm, and who even gears up and climbs those scary towers.
Mrs. BB insisted that they could not possibly know how many birds are killed by the big blades because coyotes and other predators eat the remains. And the young woman explained that they sure try, up to and including buying frozen animal corpses which they put out at mapped locations and then revisit to see how long the awful offal lasts. Some jobs you don't want.
I decided then and there that the wind farm worker was my hero and settled in to listen. There was a demonstration by another speaker on how the moon rotates around the earth explaining the rare matchup that created the eclipse we were to see, clouds permitting. To be honest, ever since high school people have drawn me pictures and shown films of the earth and its rotation and I mostly get dizzy and agree that it sounds OK to me.
So we learned the earth/moon rotation thing again, and then walked out in the dark night to look. A few eagle-eyed folks spotted it right away. I did not. But on the drive home the rosy moon flew higher, the clouds parted and there it was, as advertised.
I have been to see the moon, by gum. Took a picture. It looks like it might taste of raspberry.
Sharon Nesbit if a former Outlook news reporter. She writes her column in retirement.
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