Supermoon Ushers in the Start of Spring

Supermoon Ushers in the Start of Spring
Sun sets over Rockland Harbor

The sun sets over Rockland Harbor on March 19, 2011, bringing to a close the last day of winter (Photo by Bob Trapani, Jr.)

In the tradition of changing seasons, winter officially passed its torch to spring on March 20, 2011. Such a transition is usually met with a singular focus of joy, but instead found itself somewhat of an afterthought.

On the last day of winter, the public was preoccupied with the highly anticipated rise of a supermoon on March 19th.

With the last supermoon occurring nearly twenty years ago, and the wide range of diversified opinions that are tagged to such an event by astronomers and scientists, it was difficult not to become fixated on the phenomena.

I decided that the Rockland Breakwater provided the best front row seat to witness the celebrity moon take center stage over the island of Vinalhaven on the eastern horizon, and therefore staked out a suitable spot along the granite wall in advance of the event.


Dusk drapes itself in a subdued elegance over Rockland Harbor (Photo by Ann-Marie Trapani)

Having arrived at the breakwater before sunset, my family and I observed winter’s last sun dip below the skyline with a feeling of melancholy.

Sure the winter was long and cold, and the Maine coast tolerated a solid snow-pack for nearly three successive months, but the season had also rendered its usual icy wonderment too – works of crystallized art that we had enjoyed to the fullest.

The March 19th setting sun was closing the book – at least calendar-wise, on winter, but something told me that its frigid fingerprints may not be erased for good just yet, for as we know, this is Maine!

Such a thought, whether pleasant or despised, would have to wait for some other time to be pondered further. After the sun disappeared at 6:46 pm, everyone on the breakwater turned their back on winter’s goodbye and gazed eastward in anticipation of the supermoon’s emergence.


A supermoon rises over the island of Vinalhaven and West Penobscot Bay on March 19, 2011 (Photo by Ann-Marie Trapani)

Around 7:10 pm, the yellow glow of the moon finally peeked over Vinalhaven Island, and moments later, was rising with grandeur ever-higher in the night sky.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure I could sense the larger appearance of the moon given its closeness to earth. It seemed to me that I’ve seen other moons of similar sizes, but given its supermoon status and the hype associated with its arrival, I decided to enjoy the moment for what it was – a relative rare event that adds a certain spice to everyday life.

After taking a bunch of photos and having savored the moon’s brilliance shimmering across West Penobscot Bay for more than a few minutes, I turned to leave with the thought of rising early for sunrise the next morning.

If I bid winter adieu with the evening’s sunset, I felt it only appropriate to greet spring at sunrise.

Dawn over Curtis Island

Dawn breaks over Curtis Island on the first day of spring on March 20, 2011 (Photo by Bob Trapani, Jr.)

Despite having second thoughts by Sunday morning – for extra sleep would have been great, I ventured out at first light and headed for Camden Harbor to witness the majesty of dawn.

Before identifying a good spot along the harbor to watch the sun douse the first day of spring with its radiance, my family and I made a quick stop at an overlook across from Curtis Island for a glimpse of the light station awash in a deep orange.

As we stood at water’s edge admiring the lighthouse and seascape, it dawned on me that though it was March 20th and the calendar noted that it was now spring, I could only chuckle at the thought that someone forgot to tell winter.

The air temperature was hovering around 14 degrees and the wind chill was even less hospitable, so with no warmth to be had, I tried thinking of warmer thoughts instead as we waited on sunrise. As one might imagine, the warmer thoughts didn’t work – I was still cold!


The sun prepares to rise over Curtis Island Lighthouse at the entrance to Camden Harbor (Photo by Bob Trapani, Jr.)

By 6:41 am on the 20th the sun rose in splendor over the islands of Midcoast Maine and ushered in a new season that brings with it a renewed promise of green and blossoms at every turn, but such rejuvenation will have to wait a little longer to take hold.

Of all things, the latest weather forecasts for the first week of spring are foretelling a couple days of measurable snow in the offing. Yes – snow…and just when I thought I had bid winter a final farewell. But again, this is Maine!

Happy spring anyway! :)

Sunrise on March 20, 2011

The sun rises over Northeast Point and ushers in the first day of spring 2011 (Photo by Ann-Marie Trapani)