An occasional habit of ours is enjoyment of company while viewing the effects of sunset from our east facing patio. The Sunday of January 20, 2019 I prepared for total lunar eclipse by researching moon rise. Online charts (search for “moonrise”) give the time and compass heading for particular locations.
This departing cruise ship was in line of sight and I was disappointed to have missed effect of the reflected sunlight on the myriad windows we so often enjoy with friends. The preceding and following photographs present an illusion of a cruise ship appearing larger than the full moon, the effect of the much larger body viewed from an enormous distance.
In these photographs a newly risen full moon appears to emerge from ocean cloud cover. A full moon is a requirement of a lunar eclipse, it is not possible to have an eclipse without a full moon, although the reverse is not true.
The apparent large size of the moon low in the sky is an optical illusion caused by the alignment of vision with earth-bound objects on the horizon.
A simple experiment is to find a pebble that is the same size as the newly risen full moon when held at arm’s length. Wait until the orb is well up and apparently smaller. You will find the same pebble covers the moon. On the horizon or high above, the full moon covers the same angular diameter.
One day before the 2019 Total Lunar Eclipse a full moon rose 4:25 pm above the Atlantic Ocean off Cocoa Beach, the “Space Coast” of Florida. We saw a power kite to the south, with the southerly winds there was time before he was on us. I took the following photographs with what was at hand, an iPhone 8.
At 50 minutes post moonrise, I included the orb in this frame as the rider tacked, rising a water crest.
A flick of the fingers to zoom in, the moon and rider are together as he rides toward shore.
This time of, Saturdays, the cruise ships depart Cape Canaveral Port. The kite is above the distant ship. It is amazing the kite allows sailing into the wind, his heading is southwest. The shore limits his progress, forcing a tack towards a southeast heading.
Or not, it seems he plans to tack to the northeast, continuing progress north up the coast. I have to wonder how he will return to the starting point?
Summer was the season for our visit to the edge of eternal, for now, Patagonian ice fields. Remnants from the last ice age, larger than some (small) countries. The site is surprisingly noisy with sharp, explosive, ice crackles.
More amazing even than the sounds, the dark shading on the ice is volcanic dust from recent eruptions of many cones.
On that morning, May 21, 1879 the two Chilean ships blockading Iquique port were surprised by two Peruvian warships from the port of Callao, the monitor Huáscar and armored frigate Independencia.
Arturo Prat commanded the Chilean corvette Esmeralda. Carlos Condell de la Haza was Covadonga’s commander.
The Chileans are outgunned by the Peruvians in armored ships. Condell fled in the Convadonga, pursued by the Independencia. This was the wiser course and most militarily effective because, following the Convadonga into shallow waters the deeper draft Independencia lost advantage when it ran aground and was lost.
Prat stood ground in the middle of the bay, any canon shots simply bounced off the heavily armored Huascar. The Esmeralda suffered shot after shot until the command of the Huascar, Captain Graf, decided to ram the Esmeralda to force a surrender and safe useless death.
At the first ram to the stern, as the ships were in contact, Prat ordered an attack, “Let’s board, boys.” In the confusion only two seamen joined Prat. One failed to board, Prat and Petty Officer Juan de Dios Aldea attacked. Dios Aldea was mortally wounded. Prat continued to advance alone, to the amazement of the Peruvians, awed at his courage. Prat was gunned down on the deck of the Huascar.
He crew watched in horror. When the Esmeralda was rammed again, this time in the bow, Sublieutenant Ignacio Serrano lead of 10 Chileans to board for an attack with machetes and rifles. They were massacred by the mounted Gatling gun, only Serrano survived.
The example of Prat and his crew is taught today. Arturo Pratt is the most common street name, as well as plazas, buildings. Four major warships were named after him. The current active ship is the frigate FFG 11, the Capitan Prat. The Chilean naval academy is named Escuela Naval Arturo Prat. His portrait is on the 10,000 peso Chilean note.
Ricaro’s name tag reads, “Oceania Cruises, your world, your way.” I began my two previous blogs with Ricardo, “Valparaiso Separation” and “Valparaiso Connections I.” There’s a lot to be said for the Oceania tours. Every one lead by a knowledgeable native of the host country, fluent in English, we became familiar, some more than others, with them personally, one non-representative example. As were progressed down the coast from Iquique to Cape Horn we met a cross section of Chileans. Unlike other countries, in Chile we met only unsmiling guards on the streets, no protest rallies.
As the tour bus is about to turn down Varparaiso’s Argentina Avenue, here is a flash forward to an elaborate demonstration tableau in the Plaza de Mayo, the Casa Rosada as a backdrop, rose as in the color of bull’s blood used as pigment. The protest was in support for veterans and causalities of the ill considered 1982 Falklands War. We zoomed by the Parque De La Memoria, dedicated to the 30,000 people “disappeared” by the same military dictatorship of the Falklands War debacle.
Our entry to both Valparaiso and Buenos Aires was a cruise over the secret graves of thousands dropped, alive, into the ocean from military aircraft.
What is most chilling is the silence about this throughout our travels in Chile. No memorials, no protests, silence, only stone faced military guards.
The following is from Basílica y Convento de San Francisco de Lima, beneath which are catacombs piled with disarticulated skeletons buried and cared for in the Catholic tradition .
In Lima’s Plaza de Armas we witnessed this peaceful demonstration by pensioners protesting low payments. To be honest, around this time, in Chile, there were huge demonstrations, hundreds of thousands in Santiago, about the same issue.
The Lima crowd was peaceful.
Watched by a heavy contingent of armed police supported by large “paddy wagons” to cart people away. The vehicle marked “Prodegur” (i.e., prosecution) was one of them. Given the history of government disappearances in the region, how brave the demonstrators must be.
Our vehicle turns onto Argentina Avenue, passing under Spanish Avenue and these supports bruiting the “Patrimony of Humanity” status of Valparaiso.
We’ll start in the parking lot of the Valparaiso Passenger Terminal, introduced in my last posting, “Valparaiso Old and New”. The terminal was our first stop in Valparaiso, it services cruise ship passengers, it was in the parking lot we met Ricardo, a guide and city native. In his late sixties, Ricardo lived through numbing changes: the political turn left and election of Allende, followed by a military coup d’état (called golpe de estado in Spanish) and rise of a military officer, Pinochet, to dictator. From the 70’s through 80’s Pinochet ruled, abolishing the congress in Santiago, enjoying ruthless suppression of opponents with the full support and assistance of the military. In the late 80’s Pinochet allowed a return to democracy, a new constitution with a bi-cameral (two houses) congress in Valparaiso and elected president. Ricardo was quiet about these times, as are most Chileans and we did not press him.
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The bus passed a carved wooden statue of the albatross, near the terminal entrance. A bird of the southern ocean, familiar to mariners for the habit of following ships, this aspect of soaring the a familiar posture.
Here is a specimen in this posture following the Regatta on February 22 as we traversed the Southern Atlantic between the Falkands and Punta del Este. That day, many albatross soared among the 20+ foot waves, the wingtips very close to the water surface.
The day before, February 21, the Regatta approached the southern most point of the western hemisphere, Cape Horn, coming within a mile of the landing point and monument. At the top you can see the steel sculpture of the outline of an albatross set in a stone plinth.
A cropped version of the above image, the albatross outline is easier to see. Also visible, at the cliff base, the landing, stairs, a platform painted as a Chilean flag, the railings leading up to the Albatross Monument.
All of this to emphasize the unique position and reason for being of Valparaiso of the eastern South Pacific, made evident by the recurring motif of an albatross soaring among the waves. This retired anchor, close to the albatross sculpture, on our way to Argentina Avenue and the weekend street fair (to be continued).
Copyright 2018 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills
Two minutes after capturing the last light on Concon Point, see “Valparaiso Departure II”, turning the camera 180 degrees, to the south, looking along the Chilean coast, to capture birds on the wing headed toward shore at day’s end.
Remembering other times,
waiting for darkness
with a sky map, studying it to make sense of the stars.
How far? How large?
Light from our star, eight minutes old,
grazed the earth’s rim the breath of a moth wing ago.
Connect the dots, stories of heroes, monsters.
Our star, as we know it now
Progress, an illusion to be understood
No less mysterious for that
Look back to the sheltering headland of Valparaiso, glowing.