Monday, March 05, 2007

Not under a Blood Red Sky

I happened to be in Grosvenor Square on Saturday night; attending a glittering night of the stars of London's tea, coffee and fried breakfast retail sales community (aka a London Italian dinner dance - somewhat akin to Phoenix Nights but with fewer Northerners and more prosciutto).

Grosvenor Square is, of course, home to the US Embassy and has had a strange vibe about it post 9/11. If a mouse so much as farts there 400 day-glo policemen appear at the drop of a hat. Even walking through it at night you can't escape the feeling that unseen eyes are tracking your every movement.

A family friend lives in a flat within the permanent security cordon that surrounds the embassy. A few months ago she was sitting in her kitchen, minding her own business when a police sniper, complete with humongous scoped rifle, came crashing through her skylight. He was awfully apologetic and promised to send someone round to fix the damage, before asking where the front door was and scampering off.

On the plus side of the balance sheet, she's a lot less worried about the risk of burglary than most other people. Having men with guns crawling around, and occasionally falling through, your roof 24/7 does bring a sort of peace of mind.

Strange days

There are news reports that the US Embassy may be moved to Chelsea Barracks. Though, considering the mental state of the current US leadership, maybe everyone involved would be a lot safer if it was temporarily moved a little further West than that - by about another three and half thousand miles.

Anyway, there we were enjoying a particularly depressing Tom Jones impersonator doing a cabaret routine when word spread around the tables that there was a lunar eclipse taking place. And out everyone went.

Lunar eclipses are noted for the fact that the Moon is bathed with coppery-red refracted light during the eclipse.

Sadly, my photographic record of the event and the mental image I had of photographing a
Blood Red Moon over the US Embassy was thwarted by several unavoidable environmental factors
  • I only had an inadequate little camera with me
  • I had been drinking
  • I really wasn't in the mood to run the risk of having to explain what I was doing photographing the US Embassy at night
  • The snuggly, protective layer of vehicle fumes that shields Londoners from harmful UV in the Summer and keeps us warm in the Winter also seems to filter out red-shifted light :(
  • The Moon wasn't in the right part of the sky
  • It was also quite small

And here it is -
Partial Lunar Eclipse over Grosvenor Square...

And here is a close up taken at the moment of total eclipse


/ gives up any dreams of becoming a professional astrophotographer



sam_m said...

"..a police sniper... came crashing through her skylight."
It's not terrorism I fear when I cross Grosvenor Sq., it's our first line defenders.
The Met's failures of judgement in weapons incidents over the last few years has lost them public confidence.

Stef said...

Oooh, I'd missed that story

thx, I think I'll link to it