Moonset in Maine

Hey, everyone! Thanks for stopping by. I’ve been wanting to do a quick post to share this photo with you for the last couple of days. It’s not much, but there’s a little astronomy here. Just a quick post for the first day after we all put our white shoes away for another year. I hope everyone had a great, long weekend. I always feel like after labor day comes and goes, we’re really just running out the clock until the leaves start to fall and I can start cooking stews again. At least the brewing industry helps by putting the Oktoberfest and Pumpkin beers on the shelves earlier and earlier each year.

I took this photo with my little pocket-sized Canon Powershot something or other on the beach in Wells, Maine. I’ve been a photographer for many years, have more cameras than anyone really needs, and still very deeply love to use film. This little camera, though, for all its quirks and annoyances, has become the one I reach for first these days. As the cliché goes, it’s the one you use.

wells contrast adj
The Moon Setting in Wells, Maine – August, 2016.

We spent more of the day before driving than any of us really wanted to. As I unbuckled my daughter in the hotel parking lot, she woke up and, with her head on my shoulder, lifted her arm and pointed at the Moon. During the last hour or so of driving, it had risen up over the Burger Kings, the Days Inns, and the Dunkin’ Donuts along the interstate, with cars wooshing by on the elevated roadway. That’s one of those snapshots that’s both nowhere and everywhere in modern America. The Moon was still fairly low, a waning gibbous getting ready to spend the early morning hours making its way across the  sky, one of just a couple of things visible through all the lights.

I’ve lived in the east almost my entire life, but the morning of this photo was my first trip to Maine, and I watched out the window as the Atlantic rolled into view. It was the same ocean I’ve seen time and again, but there it was. As we pulled over to find a spot to scamper out onto the rocks, which I’d bet are hidden away at high tide, I turned away from the sea and stared at this scene.

Back home, my neighborhood is a hilly and leafy suburb. The houses and roads winding through give a good impression of a compact mountain town, where the hills seem to be a neighbor all their own. While there’s a good amount of reasonably dark sky, if there’s one thing we don’t have, it’s horizon.

My daughter, who was now much more awake, and I stopped and stared for a while, our backs to the ocean. It’s not often we get to see the Moon rising in the evening, and then setting again the next morning. With the days as long as they are in the summer, and the nights shorter, it’s a little bit easier.

A close-up, with the Moon in the box

As we watched it disappear behind the far-off fields, a couple of other people walked over and asked what we were looking at, reminding us where the ocean was. “The end of last night’s Moon,” we told them. It’s these small and understated things in the sky that always get me. As old as the sky and everything in it, is, there’s always something new.

Clear skies, everyone!



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