It's the first moon night of our Apollo 11 celebration. On this day, the astronauts left for the moon on a Saturn V rocket.
50 years later, a partial lunar eclipse is visible from Amsterdam.
Entering Rijksmuseum, we walk right up to Jupiter high in the sky. As we're setting up, a few people who heard about our event approach us! Advertising works!
When I visited in Amsterdam in 2015, I remember, like everyone else, taking a picture in front of the I AMSTERDAM letters. A big plaza that's totally crowded, day and night.
It turns out they removed the landmark because the entire place was swarmed with a critical mass of tourists. Now that the letters are gone, the park is a calm and peaceful but very central location in the city.
Our friend Ammar joins us and ends up hanging out with us for the whole night! So now, we begin to gather people who are nearby to look through the telescope. It's a quiet, more neighborly affair, and the crowd is made up of a mix: a few visitors as well as a few Dutch residents.
An English family passes by with three daughters. All of them are excited to look through the telescope, so I lower the tripod way down. The first girl looks through, and that's when I realize: they know all the basics! I try to tell them about Jupiter's clouds, but they already know what they're looking at. Do any of you know what a lunar eclipse is? It's when the moon passes in front of Earth's shadow. One of the girls, Ellie, even leaves us with a sketch of Jupiter, as she saw it with her very own eyes!
The full moon, at 52 degrees latitude, is much lower in the sky than in Philly (40 degrees). Hold your fist out at arm's length. That's how much lower!
So when the moon peeked out from the horizon of the buildings, the eclipse was in full swing. An abnormal crescent shape hung in the sky, with the two points facing straight up. A few people passing by thought it was a cloud.
Earth's shadow has an interesting fluffy appearance. Unlike the moon's terminator line, which gives us the crisp shadows we love to look at, Earth's shadow does not have a crisp boundary. It isn't as dark either: you can easily see the eclipsed portion of the moon as well as the eclipsed portion.
The night ticks on, and Saturn emerges. Standing back, the two planets plus the eclipsed moon form a long arc in the sky: the disk of the Solar System, and some of the best urban viewing we've ever done. It feels as though the entire ecliptic is in a special alignment.
"On July 24 we returned to Earth. We landed in the Pacific Ocean. We were invited to take a tour and I was amazed: everywhere we went people said: 'We did it, we did it, you and me, the inhabitants of this Earth.' " - Michael Collins, Apollo 11 Astronaut