I’ve seen many a sliver moon since I began this journal, but I believe this is the first one that I sighted from an airplane (and only from an airplane). We’re at the time of year when evening sliver moons should be easy-peasy to sight, the Ecliptic being so close to vertical after sunset; but the whole trick is that too view a sliver moon in the sky, no matter how far above the horizon, it is necessary to have visibility above a mile or two above ground level—and that’s one thing we’ve had over a total of about four hours since last October. No wonder our nighttime temperatures have risen so much in the last couple of decades—it’s solid overcast all night long around here, all the time.
At sunset on February 12 I was peering out the right-side window of a Boeing 737 on the Hopkins Airport tarmac, wondering at the near absence of clouds above. Only a soaring zigzag of cirrus sullied the western horizon. I knew where to look for the two-day sliver moon, but I couldn’t spy it anywhere. Then I realized I was looking too low, and twisted my neck around to get a view straight up. In the upper edge of the window I could see a misshapen, glowing sickle I knew was the sliver moon. Did that count as an official sliver-moon sighting?, I wondered. I mean, photons from the sliver moon fell on my retinas, but I didn’t really see it in the sense that it formed a pleasant image in my mind. Also, I’d nearly slipped a disc trying to look upward enough; a real sliver-moon viewing shouldn’t cause that much pain.
Figured I’d have a better chance a while later, en route, as the sliver moon slipped nearer the horizon. Then realized I was sitting on the north side of the plane during our hop to Chicago. Eeps.
Fortunately, we angled south for a couple of minutes while getting lined up on the approach path, and I was rewarded with a crystal-clear Cheshire Cat moon in a midnight-blue sky. Below, a layer of stratus clouds hugged the earth so closely that it must almost have looked like fog from ground level. I imagine that’s what home has looked like for the last four months or so.