Adventure 281 ~ Write A Collection Of Haiku Poems [30]

eclipse haiku Okay. I admit it. I can’t actually help myself when an opportunity to haiku arises (I may just have made that verb up, but I like it 🙂 ). I was going to call my haiku collection complete at 30 (I was saving number 30 for the first frost) but today was too good an opportunity to miss, too rich an experience not to explore.

At 11.55 am BST today, the lunar eclipse was going to be at totality – there would be a second chance this year to see a blood moon. I watched the first total lunar eclipse in April, live-streamed from the Griffith Observatory in the US. It was a fantastic experience : I felt connected to the people at the observatory who were witnessing the celestial spectacle, and I felt connected to our small corner of the universe too. People were really enjoying their connection to the moon, shouting “Dragon be gone!” as they urged the orange-red dragon breath to disappear and give the moon back to Earth.

So, today the impulse to watch the live-stream of the second total lunar eclipse of the year took me by surprise. It wasn’t going to be a brand new experience, and I knew how total lunar eclipses worked, so I wondered if the experience might feel “less than” my first experience.

I tuned into the livestream from the Griffith Observatory about 20 minutes before totality. This time there were no crowds, just a few commentators. It wasn’t being celebrated in the same way, and yet I did experience the witnessing of this event as a much deeper, primitive, somatic celebration. I didn’t feel connected to the people in the same way, and yet I did feel connected to the human story in a very profound way. And this experience not only took me by surprise, it took my breath away.

During a total lunar eclipse, the Earth stands between the Moon and the Sun. The Earth covers the Sun – but not completely. If you were to look at the Earth during a total lunar eclipse, you would see a halo of fire around its entire circumference. The halo you would observe is every sunset and sunrise happening on Earth simultaneously!

As the Moon moves into the Earth’s shadow, the light from the Sun is “bent” around the Earth and causes a bloody, ferrous glow . The Moon becomes blood-red because it reflects this ferrous glow. The Moon is reflecting back to the observer all the sunrises and sunsets on Earth – all at once!

Now, when you stop for a moment and really consider what you’re witnessing … well, you could see how that might take your breath away, right? And when you stop and really consider the symbolism of simultaneous beginnings and endings, of births and deaths, of eternal and inevitable cycles … and when you stop and really consider that you are observing this happening on a planet-size scale … and that you  are seeing everything all at once… you begin to realise that a total lunar eclipse eclipse is, in fact, a haiku in its own right. The Sun and the Moon work together to write a haiku of cosmological proportions across the night sky . During the totality of an eclipse, you  get to witness the essence of existence … in its totality… all at once. To be more precise, you don’t just witness it, you feel it in your body in such a way that it causes you to reflect too… just like the Moon.

Today reminded me that every moment is new. Every experience (even repeated) offers something new. And for the first time, I understood (I mean I REALLY got) the value of the haiku. For me, beneath the words of today’s haiku sits “everything”… all at once… in one breath.  And that bone-deep understanding doesn’t just take your breath away, it makes you cry.

You can read today’s haiku here, and I read it out loud on today’s video blog.

I am just going outside and I may be some time.


Adventure 253 ~ Write A Collection Of Haiku Poems [18]

Harvest Supermoon 2014 Northern IrelandYesterday’s attempted viewing of the Harvest Supermoon has inspired today’s haiku poem!

The haiku-writing process is orienting my attention towards nature, and it’s making me curious about it too. As I was looking up at the moon, the question arose “How does the moon shine like that?” So, today I got on the case and was as thrilled as a constant-why-asking 3-year old to discover the answer (which sounds familiar in a very hazy way .. like I may have actually been 3 when I asked my parents this very question!)

So, I hate the break the news to you : the moon does not shine. What we’re actually seeing is the reflected light from the sun bouncing off the moon. In other words, the moon is a mirror.

Oh, and when the moon is full, and especially when it’s a supermoon, its “shine” is bright enough to obscure other objects in the night sky. If you wondered where all the stars were on Monday night, they were still there, but they were being outshone by the moon.

Anyway, less about heavenly bodies and more about heavenly haikus 🙂 . Today’s haiku is called “Supermoon” and you can read it here. I also read the haiku out loud in today’s video-blog.

I am just going outside and may be some time.


Adventure 252 ~ See The Harvest Supermoon 2014 At Its Fullest

At 02.38 this morning, 2014’s Harvest Moon reached the crest of its full phase. This was a special Harvest Moon because it was also a supermoon (a perigean full moon).

The Harvest Moon is the full moon that falls closest to the autumnal equinox (Monday 22nd September in 2014). A full moon is a supermoon when it turns full less than a day after reaching lunar perigee. Lunar perigee is when the moon is closest to the Earth during its monthly orbit, and it appears larger and brighter at this time because of its proximity to us.

I’ve never observed a Harvest Supermoon at the crest of its full phase, so I decided to get up just before 2.38 this morning in the hope of seeing it. Because I’d done a bit of research beforehand, and would understand what I was witnessing, it all felt very exciting!

Of course, seeing it would be dependent on weather conditions …..

I am just going outside and may be some time.


Adventure 105 ~ Watch A Total Lunar Eclipse

Today I woke up with a cosmic adventure in mind! For my 105th adventure, I watched the live-streaming of the total lunar eclipse. At 08.45am UK time, I watched the eclipse pass into the “totality” phase. This morning I saw my first “live” blood moon. This morning I saw red hot dragon’s breath enveloping the moon. This morning I shared the celebrations, and awe, of those watching live in the Griffith observatory in California. This morning I welcomed our moon safely back home. This morning I felt connected to this small, wondrous corner of  our universe. This morning I felt connected to all the people watching this celestial event. This morning I felt connected to it all. (I have the feeling that my adventuring is waking me up to the aliveness of my experiences. In fact, I am feeling more alive!)

You can hear more about my experiences, and my thoughts on the benefits of adventuring, in today’s video. You can also watch a time-lapse version of today’s eclipse on CNN here.  I have also popped a copy of an Adventure Report from 2012 (talking about the Venus transit) below the video ~ I think it may make you smile 🙂 .

Adventure Report June 2012 ~ Stalking The Venus Transit   

Can anyone remember all that kerfuffle at the beginning of June 2012 about the Venus transit? Sky-watchers around the world were excited about witnessing a cosmic spectacle : this was an extremely rare opportunity since only six Venus transits have been observed since the invention of the telescope more than 400 years ago.

Transits happen when a planet crosses between Earth and the sun. After 2012, we won’t see another transit of Venus until 2117. If you are reading this, it means that the transit on the 5/6th June 2012 was your last chance! And that’s what I thought when I heard about it – this is my chance to witness something that I’ll never have the chance to witness again. And the really magic thing about the whole transit was this : the very last place on Earth it would be visible would be Northern Ireland (where I live!).

venus_1Morphing myself rapidly into a cosmic geek, I trawled the internet for information. I found out where the transit would be visible, I made sure I knew precisely at what time the sun would rise (the time at which the transit would be visible), I researched how to view the transit safely and I got myself rather excited about the prospect of getting up at 3:45am.

When the alarm went off, I felt like Indiana Jones. With adventure practically boiling in my blood, I leapt (okay, it may have looked like crawling to the untrained eye) into our van, hauling my half-asleep partner with me. Wooly hats firmly on, flasks of tea brewed and all cosmic tracking equipment stowed safely, we set off for Murlough Bay (one of the recommended viewing sights).

As we drove towards the coast, we could see the glimmer of dawn in the sky. Nervous anticipation built the closer we got to the sea ~ a Starsky and Hutch-style evacuation of the van ensued as we hurried not to miss our chance. Ian put up the projector screen and unpacked a set of 1950s binoculars. We were to hold up the large end of the binoculars to the sun and watch the transit on the screen.

Secretly I was thrilled about the fact that no-one else was there ~ that we had this beautiful place all to ourselves. Eventually the glimmer of light grew into the glare of dawn : it was the most awe-inspiring sight you could imagine. Still waters, a clear view over to the Mull of Kintyre, Ailsa Craig and right around to Islay and the Paps of Jura. Scotland looked a pebble’s throw away  and the force of the cosmos felt like it was growing under my feet.

venus2Eyes fixed firmly on the projector screen, we saw nothing .No transit. Just the passing of a few clouds. And yet there was no disappointment. Why? Because I felt that I had fully seized the day; I had embraced the moment that the day had presented and I had enjoyed the excitement of the whole experience. I had felt like an intrepid explorer.

We packed away our equipment and stored this experience with all the other “glad we gave it a go”experiences.

Funny thing is ~ it turned out we were 24 hours early for the cosmic event! We would never have seen it on the day we went : we did get up and do the same thing the next day but it was white-out conditions with nothing to be seen at all (and not half as exciting as the previous day’s experience).

venus_3The lesson this adventure taught me was this : it’s not just important to seize special opportunities ~ it’s important to seize every opportunity, to seize every day. In the act of seizing, you can experience life in its fullest force (regardless of what is happening). Venus transits maybe special but they are not a patch on the possibility that every day brings to us humans. Every day holds life-affirming adventure for all of us : now go and find it J

Information For Cosmic Explorers

How to make your own projector  ; Keep up with eclipse news

I am just going outside and may be some time 🙂 .


Adventure 68 ~ A Leap In Thinking

Screenshot (1)Today’s the last day of my Space Odyssey : I get to grips with String Theory and I reflect on my own learning process. A new line of questioning emerges for me too. It’s a different type of enquiry ~  it’s a question that exists at a new level and reflects a new order of thinking . I think I only this new question as a result of going through the process of learning about theoretical physics.

Grappling with questions about cosmology and theoretical physics has had the impact of pushing my mind through a metaphorical wormhole. I now find myself in a new universe where new laws of thinking might apply. I wonder what I’m going to discover in this new place? Whatever I discover, I’m certain it’s going to be thanks to “Wormhole Thinking” 🙂 .

I am just going outside and may be some time 🙂 .


Adventure 66 ~ The Theories Of Multiverse

Today I’m exploring “the multiverse” ~ a theory which proposes that our universe is not the only universe! Watch me as I try to get my head around three theoretical models : Bubble Universe theory ; Membrane theory and Many Worlds theory!

multiverseI am just going outside and may be some time.


Adventure 65 ~ What is exotic matter?

Today I’m exploring the idea of exotic matter and how it makes wormholes traversable 🙂 . By the way, my head seems to be acclimatising and this is, oddly enough, all beginning to make sense to me!

I am just going outside and may be some time.


Adventure 64 ~ What is space-time?

Today I explore the idea of space-time (also known as the space-time continuum and the fabric of space-time). I found a really helpful video which helped the penny to drop (but my head still hurts!)

I am just going outside and may be some time 🙂 .


Adventure 63 ~ Einstein’s Theory Of General Relativity

Four lines of enquiry opened up yesterday as a result of grappling with the idea of wormholes. One of those lines was : what is the theory of general relativity? Today I attempt to understand, and describe, this theory which Einstein published in 1915. (I’d just like to say that my head is beginning to hurt!) 🙂

I am just going outside and I may be some time.


Adventure 62 ~ Wormholes 101

Today I’m exploring the line of enquiry that opened up for me yesterday : wormholes . Watch me as I use a part of my vacuum cleaner to explain how this hypothetical feature of space- time might work and as I begin to see a learning pattern emerge!

I am just going outside and may be some time 🙂 .