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February 20th, 2008

Getting up in the middle of the night

I'm going to bed now, because F wants me to wake him up in the middle of the night to see the lunar eclipse. I've seen several in my life, but it's different when you are eight. Indeed, since there won't be another total lunar eclipse until December 2010, and rather longer until the next one properly visible from here, maybe I should relish it a bit more.

I've been looking back through the list of eclipses in my lifetime. I think I have seen about four. They are on the whole associated with moments of change in my life, to my surprise. I'm pretty sure I remember 9 September 1978, a couple of weeks after I started grammar school; I'm certain I remember 16 October 1986, just after I had started at Cambridge; and I also remember 9 December 1992, attending a pub quiz in the Rotterdam in Belfast, not long before Anne and I got engaged.

And of course there was the 11 August 1999 total solar eclipse. We drove south to France, with visiting in-laws, two-year-old B and two-week-old F, along with the entire population of Belgium and most of the Netherlands, and indeed managed to catch a few moments of totality as the clouds parted near the end. B commented "Dark", and then, thoughtfully, "Sunset"; she was receding into her own world already, but we did not know that.

So F, who has seen the photographs of himself as a neonate from 1999, is keen to be woken up in time for this one. If the weather holds (though the forecast is for fog), he should be satisfied.

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