Wednesday, February 20, 2008


In 1504, on 28th February, Christopher Columbus was in dire straits, having been stranded on Jamaica, and at the mercy of local Carib people for food and safety. They were about to attack, an attack that could possibly have prevented the genocide that occurred in Anahuac if it had taken place, when Columbus recalled that on the 29th February there would be a total eclipse of the moon. He sent word to the Carib chief that, unless he and his men were guaranteed safety and a food supply, he would cause the moon to lose its brightness. In essence he threatened to "switch the moon off." Naturally, the Caribs, not being as well up as the Mayan in astronomy, laughed at him.

On the night of the 29th February 1504 the moon turned red and darkened. The Caribs, alarmed by what they thought was the white man's magic, although it was, of course, only chicanery, panicked and promised to feed the men and allow them to stay in peace until they were rescued. Columbus agreed to this and the moon became bright again. The Carib, unlike the white men that followed Columbus, kept their word, and he and his men were rescued on 29th June 1504. The rest, as they say, is history.

The next total eclipse in this area is at 21h01 to 21h51 tomorrow, 20th February 2008. I thought I would show you what a Full Moon over the Caribbean looks like, and tomorrow will try to capture the eclipse.

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