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total lunar eclipse

Posted by on June 16, 2011

Tanya and I have been keeping a running “to do” list and when we looked at it this morning, we realized the number of pressing things to take care of in the office. Because of that, the two of us decided to bike into work while Jaclyn went into the field by herself. Their previous day’s mapping activity had been extremely successful and everything was in place for today so we didn’t really need to of us in the field. Even though she’s only been here for a week, we felt confident that Jaclyn could handle things by herself.

The morning passed a bit slowly because many of the things we needed to do involved talking to the manager or accountant who were out most of the day or they involved a fluent Swahili speaker who wasn’t available until the afternoon. I spent most of the morning getting extremely frustrated with Microsoft Excel while trying to make some graphs of malaria cases but not being able to get the program to display what I wanted on the x-axis. I never figured it out and quit working on that at lunch time before I started throwing things.

We had a really busy afternoon when Makame and Jaclyn returned from the field and we didn’t leave the office until after 4:30, about an hour after everyone else had gone home. I wanted to go to the yoga class but couldn’t make it there on time so instead I stopped on the way home to get a bottle of wine and some vegetables for dinner.

We had our first dinner guest over tonight! Kim, who is from San Francisco and worked on a similar project last summer, is here for a month working on a new project and we decided to have her over for dinner.

Sadly, we bought a bottle of wine without remembering that we don’t own a cork screw.

Luckily, Kim has a rental car so she and Tanya drove down to a bar and asked the owner to open the bottle for us. This is Africa.

We had a great dinner of pasta with veggies in a tomato sauce and the power only went off mid-way through our meal. We’re getting used to eating by head lamp but keep telling ourselves that we should get some candles.

It was great getting to know Kim and to have someone else to talk to at dinner. Hopefully we’ll have more people over in the future.

When she was leaving, Kim told us that a lunar eclipse was happening that night and sure enough, we looked up at the sky and part of the full moon was covered with a dark spot despite a cloudless sky. The Earth’s shadow made the moon look yellowish orange and over the course of the next few hours we kept going outside to look at it. We looked up on-line and it was the longest total lunar eclipse that has occurred for 11 years, but don’t worry, you didn’t miss it because it could only be seen in Europe, Africa and Southeast Asia. It was really amazing and we probably spent an hour over the course of the night watching it.

And if I didn’t mention this before, the stars are really amazing here. There is very little light pollution (especially when the power is out) so the Milky Way really lights up the sky. It’s so bright in fact that Tanya first thought it was a cloud until I told her it was the galaxy! I’ve seen a number of shooting stars here just from watching the skies. And since it’s so warm at night, it’s very pleasant to stand outside for a while, at least until the mosquitoes find you!

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