Partial Lunar Eclipse over Mt Fury

North Cascades, Washington

The morning came clear and very cold. I rolled over to face out from the rock of the small ledge upon which I had been sleeping, snugly wrapped in the warmth of my sleeping bag. The sky was the muted blue of predawn and it cast the serrated mountain landscape before me in a duotone of very soft light.

The moon caught my attention almost immediately. I had lost track of the phase of the moon, and watching it rise as a full orange disc the night before had thrilled me all the more for its surprise. Now, through the dimly lit atmosphere, it shined white, not yet affected by the coming dawn. But what was that? In my groggy, just-awakened state, it wasn’t immediately clear to me what I was seeing. The moon was much dimmer on one side and was shaped in a strangely thick, disproportionate crescent. When at last it struck me, I quickly sat up in my sleeping bag, amazed at my good fortune. I had had no idea that this eclipse would occur.

As dawn slowly drew nearer, the moon descended in steady counterpoint. The eclipse was also changing; losing its bite as the umbral shadow slowly receded. At last, the sun signaled its final advance, projecting the shadow-line of the earth’s horizon up into the atmosphere in a painted band of pink light. Long beams of shadow and luminance streamed from a point on the sun-bound horizon spreading as they approached into broad lines high above me and converging again as they shot on to the west, interrupting the colorful skylight, to reach a vanishing point at the moon.

Rising through the clearing shadows below, sharp, narrow ridges sliced up through the glacier-draped mountainside. Sovereign of the wilderness radiating out from it, the mountain seemed befitting of this marvelously cut and dramatically lit jewel of adornment; a beacon of wonder, reflecting its brilliance over the precipitous, twin summits of Mt Fury.