Saturn and Moon Occultation December 28, 2001


The evening started with some flat clouds, which had me somewhat worried. I had gone to Katy to hang out with some friends. While I was visiting it began to storm. . .not a good sign. Still my friend Mark Egan was very cool and positive and said we still had a chance to see the occultation. 

            The hours passed and Mark and I went outside and watched the skies. The storms had shifted out of the area and left a layer of relatively thin clouds over the area. As we talked and watched the skies, the moon would seemingly burn a hole through the clouds forming the most amazing view. The moon, surrounded by clouds, shone off the clouds creating a rainbow of colors, red, orange, blue, and green. The details of the clouds was revealed by the moon as its soft light spread across the sky. We continued to watch. Every once in a while a star would peek through the skies then disappear again. It was late and it began to rain. 

I took my leave and drove home. Lightning graced the skies from the West and northwest where Liberty County was under a Tornado warning. As I drove home I watched the lightning flash revealing odd clouds. In the moments where clear sky was seen, towering cumulus cloud tops shone blue from the moon's light.

About 40 or 45 minutes later I arrived home.  Lightning was flashing West and North from my location. I called Mark and he reported that he was getting clear skies. I was still under cloudy skies. He said to keep my eyes out for clearing, but my hope was dim. I let him go so that he could pull out his scope for a look at the event.

            Saturn had already emerged on the other side of the moon, but was still very close to it. At about 4am Mark called. I still had cloudy skies. His report was great and I was glad at least one of us saw it. He said to keep checking the skies. . . and I did. Finally, at 4:25am I reported to Mark that I had a clear patch of sky right over the moon. Weather sure is fascinating and Houston weather sure does change fast. I looked at the moon and saw the small pin-dot of Saturn beneath it. It was difficult to see Saturn because of the steady glow of the moon and Saturn was still very close to it, but I managed to catch a view of Saturn and it was awesome.

Thanks Mark!

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