The wind was blowing chill off the sea when I arrived along the East Cliffs above Bournemouth. The Needles glowed off the tip of the Isle of Wight as the sun set. A steady procession of swells rolled in from the southwest, attracting seabirds and surfers. Photographers started gathering along the paths, setting up tripods and adjusting lenses to get the best views.
The big event was the Supermoon Lunar Eclipse. The moon was due to pass through the earth’s shadow just past 2 am, local time. It coincided with the closest approach of the moon in its elliptical path around the earth, making the disc appear 14% larger in diameter, up to 30% brighter, than normal.
We had clear skies and a beautiful sunset in Dorset: great practice for the show to come.
On cue, the moon rose over the Isle of Wight.
It really was spectacular: absolutely brilliant against the darkening skies and the reflecting seas. The professional photographers were getting wonderfully detailed shots of the lunar surface.
Nearby, an elderly white-haired man sat on the park bench watching all of the excitement. Early in the evening, he talked to me about traveling down from London, staying with his family, what the eclipse was all about. He kept to himself when people started to arrive, but came over as I got ready to leave.
‘I’ve written you a poem,’ he said, offering to read it:
It was the night of a full moon,
It was beside the sea.
My heart was full of happiness,
My spirit full of glee.
It was in beautiful Bournemouth,
A lovely, lovely place.
God bless you and all you meet
And may you always have a smile on your face.
It was unexpected and nice: I told him how much I appreciated it, and he jumped a little and clapped his hands, laughing. We shared a brief hug and smile, and then were off our separate ways, under the rising moon.