Rising with the Moon For the Sake of Writing Research

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Not one of my pictures, though I took a lot.

Not one of my pictures, though I took a lot.

There are very few things I’m willing to get up early for: McDonald’s breakfast, garage sales, and Black Friday, to name a few. This morning (even though 4 a.m. feels like night), I got up early to see the second and final total eclipse of 2014.

For those of you who follow me on twitter, you’re probably thinking “Shut up about the blood moon already!”

After today, I promise I will, but getting to watch the lunar eclipse (from start to finish) was an important moment for me for several reasons.

A lunar eclipse is a rare phenomenon on its own (2 a year on average), but several total eclipses in a six-month period is even rarer. This was one of four total eclipses in what’s known as a tetrad. The last will be in Sept 2015. Red moons occur every 2-4 years or so, and there have been at least a dozen tetrads in the last 500 years (which still makes them pretty rare). Whenever a triad occurs, it’s interesting to note, it is usually followed by a religious movement–possibly because they are mistaken for a Biblical sign or a warning of doom. I guess we’ll have to wait until September to find out if this tetrad will cause any religious upheaval or “the end.” To be continued . . .

The last red moon I tried to witness was in April. I really wanted to see it. I set an alarm, got up early, went outside in the cold, looked up at the sky, and saw nothing but clouds. I was so disappointed. I had to wait five months to see the next one. Last night, or morning I should say, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, so I was able to see this rare event before 2015.

The main reason I wanted to see it was because I have a blood moon in my book, although I don’t call it a blood moon. This isn’t the scientific name. I’m not really sure when people started calling it that–could be a Twilight thing for all I know. Without giving away too much of the story (spoiler alert), one of my protagonist is born under a red moon, which is unfortunate for him because his culture views red moons as an unfavorable sign. All of the societies that I’ve created view celestial events from a different cultural standpoint, whether it be a falling star or a lunar eclipse. Some of them view it as a natural occurrence, while others see it as being a bad omen. As a result, this character is considered ill-fated because of a red moon.

For those of you who didn’t see it, it was spectacular. The moon during a total eclipse looks red because the way the light from the sun bounces off the earth. So technically I saw the light of sunrise and sunset at once. How cool is that? I took pictures and notes, naturally. It was worth losing sleep for.

You might call me crazy; you might call me dedicated. I woke up at 4:00 a.m., stood outside in the cold for two hours, and got weird looks from the neighbors, all for the sake of writing research.

What’s the funnest, oddest, or even most dangerous thing you’ve done to connect with your story? Did you travel somewhere your character has been? Try a new or exotic food? Stare at a moon?

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