NATURE NARRATIVES: Eclipsing moon sets over Garden

By Melissa Walker
       At 5 a.m. Dec. 10, I was treated to my first unexpected view of the pre-dawn world. I opened the curtains of my west-facing window, and there was the constellation of Orion setting over Pikes Peak. The three bright stars of Orion's belt glittered just above Pikes Peak's summit like a crown of diamonds. The bright, very full moon gave no hint of what was to come.

The eclipsing moon Dec. 10 sets near dawn above the Rampart Range, between the Gateway Rock formations.
Les Goss photo

       However, by 5:45am, a hazy shadow began to shroud the upper left curve of the moon. My husband and I were now at our viewing location at the entrance to Garden of the Gods Park. We watched in silence as the Earth's shadow began to cloak the top half of the moon. The December dawn sky presented other treasures. Sirius, the brightest star in our sky, was setting behind the pale saddle of Gray Rock, and the bright stars of Gemini were glittering high overhead.
       Just as the top half of the moon was beginning to take on a faint red glow, matching the reddish hues of the towering sandstone rocks of Garden of the Gods, the moon slipped below the mountains of the Rampart Range. In the stillness of dawn, we could hear a great-horned owl hooting in the distance.

Walker, a long-time area naturalist, posts regular entries in her online blog at naturenarratives.com. She has given her permission to reprint selected pieces in the Westside Pioneer.