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Project Hail Mary and a total eclipse of the Moon

TLDR: I tore through Project Hail Mary, the latest scifi thriller from Andy Weir (author of The Martian and Artemis), turning the final page a couple of hours before we were treated to a blood supermoon.

As with The Martian and Artemis, Andy Weir has infused Project Hail Mary with mystery, scientific curiosity, humour, and heart. Cleverly structured to drip feed information to the reader, I was 100% engaged throughout, rooting for the charming main character and his ‘unexpected ally’ (not a spoiler – promise! – the book description teases it).

I pre-ordered this signed hardback from Waterstones months ago, and I’m so glad I got right onto it and didn’t let it get sucked into the blackhole of my reading pile. Project Hail Mary is for sure on the shortlist for my favourite book of 2021.

I was at peak space geek while reading this book, and for that to coincide with something special in our own sky – cue wide-eyed wonder. The blood supermoon occurred at 11:11pm last night in New Zealand. It was a rather cold night, so I didn’t camp outside, and instead ducked out every five minutes or so to watch the Moon being eclipsed.

As I understand it, a lunar eclipse is considered a ‘blood moon’ when the Moon is totally in Earth’s shadow (i.e. no direct sunlight reaches the Moon’s surface), but we can still see it as Earth’s atmosphere refracts the sunlight to reach the Moon, though in doing so it scatters the shorter wavelengths of visible light leaving only red – blood! And a ‘supermoon’ is when a full moon or new moon coincides with perigee (i.e. when the Moon is closest to Earth). And when both happen at the same time – bam! – blood supermoon.

Still, all this would’ve been for naught if it was a cloudy night. We had thick, low fog ruining my last attempt at viewin lunar/solar event a few years ago in London. Luckily, this time we had clear skies!

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