Monday, 21 January 2019

Pale beauty

It's been a weekend of pale beauty here in the northeast of Scotland.  Driving towards Banchory we were in atmospheric mist with shafts of sunlight streaming through the trees - and I hadn't brought a camera!  We stopped on the road which drops from Queen's View towards Coull where there's a wide sweep of the Dee valley below.  A photo on a mobile phone gives an impression of the almost ghostly quality of light.  Beyond the Dee the easternmost of the Munros, Mount Keen, was prominent as a dome of brilliant white against the pale blue of the winter sky.

On Sunday evening I took a walk around the local area and was returning home as the moon rose above the farmland.  Initially a shade of golden yellow, it rapidly became a disc of pale beauty as it cleared the frost haze; the temperature plummeted below freezing and continued down to minus 6 Celsius.  This full moon was a bit of a special one too....

I was up and about before 5am in order to catch a flight for work - but also to try and catch something of the lunar eclipse which reached totality at 0512.  Given the catchy title of a "super blood wolf moon" because the moon was at perigee (closest to earth and so appearing 7% larger than normal), the blood term from the expected reddish colour and "wolf moon" is a name for a January full moon.

The eclipse was so total that the moon appeared for a while as a dark disc - and my camera simply wouldn't focus on it; the image is included here to show the extraordinary colour.  The difference between the conditions during this eclipse and the very special solstice lunar eclipse in December 2010 was amazing - the ambient light from the snow covered landscape on that occasion must have made quite a difference. 

In any case, my images this time mostly showed nothing but a blur of reddish-brown at totality.  What I actually observed was a disc of deep brown with a reddish edge all round - it was incredibly beautiful.

Gradually the terminator (I love some of the astronomical terms!) crept down and allowed pale light to flood around a portion of the moon, just as a haze of cloud arrived and softened the light.

A post of rather dodgy photos, but hopefully conveying something of the pale beauty of this winter weekend.


  1. Nice selection of photos Ian. I've not got the patience for night time sky gazing in Scotland. Stayed up all night years ago in freezing temperatures to see a meteor shower. Decided then it wasn't worth it for the hardship involved. Been in winter bothies in perfect conditions for Northern Lights and star spotting but even then 30 minutes at minus ten outside was enough. Different ball game in hot countries though as it's a pleasure being outside at night looking up yet still warm.

  2. Thanks Bob, it was certainly chilly, but what a beautiful sight