Moon Rise – Halloween Night

Moon Rise

I got a good look at our closest celestial neighbor a couple of weeks back.

It was warm Halloween day – shirt sleeve weather. Indian summer. A good day to spend outdoors.

I headed north from Mountain View toward San Francisco, and then west toward the coast to Half Moon Bay. The countryside around the seaside city has a number of farms that, given the time of year, were full of a literal sea of orange orbs.

pumpkin_sea

People had better buy these because once Halloween was over at midnight, they would all turn into…well, pumpkins, I guess.

OK, not my best pun…

Driving south from Half Moon Bay along the Pacific Coast Highway, I stopped at a gravel parking lot that looked out on a long beach and spectacular cliffs.

half_moon_bay_beach
The beach is very long; only about 60 percent of it is in the photo. To get a sense of the scale, look for the woman sitting on the beach. She’s the only thing there that casts any real shadow.

The bluff is so steep that you actually climb down it using a series of ropes that are tied to poles stuff in the hill. It was a bit tricky, but I made it down just fine. As I reached the beach, the woman passed me on her way up the hill. I was alone.

half_moon_bay_beach_2
The beach was spectacular, and the cliffs at the far northern end were well worth the long walk.

half_moon_bay_cliffs
As I walked near the cliffs, I discovered that I was not actually alone out there. I was being watched….

sea_lions
Two sea lions lurked off shore, probably wondering if I would make a good meal. I never gave them the chance.

The sun went down just after 6 p.m., slowly sinking below a thermal layer that hovered off shore.

sunset_half_moon_bay

I shivered as a cold wind kicked up. This would be the latest sunset for months. Standard Time would begin early the next morning. A demarcation line between the Indian summer of that day and the long cold winter to follow.

I turned around and headed toward the hill, determined to make it safely up before darkness fell. As I looked up, my spirits were lifted.

moon_rise_half
A nearly full moon – rising above the bluff on Halloween.

Moon Rise

It was spectular – and very challenging to capture. I had the camera on extreme zoom – and without a tripod, it was difficult to keep the moon in frame. But I got some good shots.

moon_wires
Satisfied with my expedition, I headed back up hill on the rope. It had been a great day.