Mt Barney Lodge led our first guided ascent of Mt Maroon at night … ever …. In March this year!! The twin draw-card for adventurous participants was the opportunity to view the sunset in the west, with the counterbalance of the full moon rise in the east. This amazing sight only happens a couple of times a year on a weekend, and we were happy that we could organise a small group to observe it.
Because it was so special, Innes and Tracey both went as leaders to experience and enjoy the walk. Great weather was forecast, and the views on the ascent
The gradually colouring sunset was so spectacular that after 15 minutes of taking iphone photos, Innes encouraged the group to put down their phones and just enjoy it with all their senses (and then he cranked up his Nikkon on a tripod … but that’s another story 😊 )
One unexpected bonus was following the gradually lengthening shadow of the 966m Mt Maroon shadow to the eastern horizon, which pointed perfectly to the place the full moon ended up arising. The triangular summit of Mt Maroon was acting as the perfect sundial!
We assumed that the simple answer was that the sun and moon follow each others path every cycle, but it isn’t quite that simple!! As the moon circles around the earth in an elliptical orbit, so too does the earth circle around the sun along an egg-shaped path.
The moon rises and sets every day, like the Sun. But while the Sun always rises in the morning and sets in the evening, the Moon does it at a different time every day.
It increasingly lags behind the Sun, by about 50 minutes a day. If you know how many days it is since a new moon, multiply that by 50 minutes, to find out approximately how much the Moon is lagging behind the Sun.
But at full moon rise, there is a good chance to see both celestial bodies on the horizon at the same time … and the earth seems to stand still for a moment as they both regard each other across the expanse of the Mt Barney valley.
Our group of five who started off as strangers ended up comfortable companions on the summit as we shared in the wonder of the celestial bodies, and incredible sunset, the stillness of an alpine summit and the yummy warm vegetarian pasta and hot cuppa as the light faded.
The night hike down was assisted by head torches, as no matter how bright the moon is, you still need to see your feet that are shaded by your upright body! With the stillness of the night, and the quiet concentration of descending without an incident, the group agreed that this part of the mountain was like silent walking meditation.
While some parted ways in the carpark at the base of the mountain at 9pm, some returned to Mt Barney Lodge where they could quickly get comfortable, regard the mountain summit from their veranda and see the sunrise on the following day as the cycle of the heavenly bodies continued.
(above image courtesy of http://www.robpackerphotography.com/)
Our next 'Moonrise on Mt Maroon' guided walk is Saturday 4th November 2017.
More details here: