Look at something long enough and you start seeing it everywhere.
Look at something long enough and you start seeing it everywhere.
1) the full moon can be glorious, but it’s really the moon phasing in and out that is the most interesting to me
2) morning moons sometimes beat evening moons, especially when they hang big and low by the horizon and startle you when you turn a corner or come out from under the shade of a tree
“Alternate Moons”, a completely gorgeous photography book by Robert Pufleb (that completely disguises the fact that its subject matter is pancakes.) ?? pic.twitter.com/gusI9IKJ90
— kelli anderson (@kellianderson) September 22, 2018
At the end of the book is a recipe for cooking up your own batch of moons.
I immediately felt them akin to my grounds galaxies — photos of coffee grounds on my kitchen counter, manipulated in the Photoshop Express iOS app and Instagram:
I love making these images during breakfast — thinking about the cosmos in the most mundane, domestic, earliest moments of the day…
To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour
(There’s a good flour/flower pun there, but I’ll leave it.)
A reader wrote in to tell me my pictures of the moon through my new telescope were beautiful and all, but the moon was upside down. Indeed! When you look through a Dobsonian telescope the image you see is upside down because the mirror in the bottom is curved, as is explained in this video, with a kitchen spoon, some sticks, and a piece of foam:
I didn’t bother altering the image of the moon in the post, because I wanted to show it as it looked through my viewfinder.
I’m reminded of Betty Edwards’ book, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, which includes an exercise that asks the drawer to draw something upside down:
Familiar things do not look the same upside down. We automatically assign a top, bottom, and sides to the things we perceive, and we expect to see things oriented in the usual way – that is, the right side up. For, in upright orientation, we can recognize familiar things, name them, and categorize them by matching what we see with our stored memories and concepts.
When an image is upside down, the visual cues don’t match. The message is strange, and the brain becomes confused.
What you do, when you turn something upside down, is make it strange — when your brain doesn’t know exactly what it is that you’re looking at, you start to really look at the thing and see it with “fresh” eyes.
(A fabulous read on art and optics is David Hockney’s Secret Knowledge.)
As Paul Valéry put it (paraphrased for the title of Weschler’s book on artist Robert Irwin): “To see is to forget the name of the thing one sees.”
My wife got me a legit Dobsonian telescope for my birthday, but, as they say, you buy a new telescope you also buy a week of rain. Saturday night it was finally clear enough for a few hours around sunset to try it out on the waxing gibbous.
After mistakenly trying to use both the 1.5″ and 2″ eyepiece adapters, we got it set up and it was so, so cool. I felt giddy looking at the moon in such detail.
Then, maybe even cooler, we put the 10mm eyepiece on and pointed it at Jupiter — holy moly. We could see the bands and even 3 of the moons. (Took me back to my freshman year of college, trying to prove Kepler’s laws of planetary motion.) What a wonderful way to spend a summer evening.
Last night the moon lit up the Rhode Island moonstones that my wife keeps on our bathroom windowsill. They were like tiny little planets. I was reminded of the first page of Bruno Munari’s From Afar It Was An Island:
The two-year-old banged on the front door and shouted “Moon!” this morning, so, as we do, we went out to take a look. Crescent, waxing, almost new. It resembled all the wonderful photos people had taken of the crescent-shaped shadows that the partial eclipse cast earlier this year:
Full moons have their charms, but I am drawn towards the phases in between them, just as I am drawn, or even biased towards, art that exists only in part, art that is in-progress or unfinished, cut-up or fragmentary, incomplete or imperfect…
I am partial to the partial.
* * *
This morning I took another picture of the moon. It was at the top of the sky — I couldn’t see it without breaking my neck — so I lied down in the driveway on my back, lining up my iPhone camera with the eyecup on my binoculars, fiddling with the exposure and focus on Camera+.
A neighbor drove past on his way to work, and I wondered if he saw me, and, if he did, what on Earth he thought I was doing.
Back in the house, drinking my coffee, I checked my camera roll and tried to pick the best shot. I started thinking about how I like looking at all the little moons together more than any single moon.
Taking one picture of the moon isn’t all that interesting, but seeing all the pictures of the moon you’ve taken together, that’s a little more interesting:
The artist Penelope Umbrico, of her gigantic collages of moon photographs uploaded to Flickr, says the opposite: “Seen individually any one of these images is impressive. Seen as a group, however, they seem to cancel each other out.”
We disagree on that point, but I sure do like what Umbrico has assembled in these pieces, especially when she starts sorting by color:
The moon actually doesn’t give off its own light, it only reflects the sun’s, so add that fact to the atmospheric conditions and the time of day you happen to see it, and it’s always taking on some interesting color. (I have started to prefer morning moons to evening moons.) When you read books like Bernd Brunner’s Moon: A Brief History or watch movies live Moonstruck, you realize how much of that reflective quality is essential to how we feel about it: the moon reflects our own light back at us, in a way.
I can’t really remember when I started going so nuts for the moon. I think it started when we moved into this old house. We used to live in a townhouse that didn’t have much of a view of the night sky from any of its windows. Then we moved into our current house, which sits on a bigger lot, surrounded by suburban ranch houses, so there are better sky views to be had. But I think it really has to do with our master bathroom, which has a window you can look out of while you pee. I get up in the middle of the night and peer out into the backyard, and when the moon’s out, it always makes me feel a little wild. A bit mysterious. A bit less willing to go back to bed.
When it’s my morning to get up with the boys, one of the first things we’ll do if the moon is out is run out the front door into the driveway to take a look. They’ve grown up on books like Papa, Please Get The Moon for Me, and The Moon Seems To Change and The Moon Book, so they share in my joy, for now. And one of the best moments of any day is when, unprompted, my two-year-old will stick his index finger in the air and shout, “Moon!”
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