Photo Essay: Watching the last supermoon of 2020



Physically tired from the things I was doing, I decided to stop everything, grab the camera and wait for the moon to rise.

Today I just came back to our place in Al Khobar after spending a month and a half in the small village of Haradh, and I was greeted by chaos.

The aquariums were in bad condition, fish have died, and the worst, my refrigerator was powered off spoiling everything inside. It was the worst thing I’ve smelled in my entire life. Rotten eggs and decaying sausages.

Meh. It was all my fault.




    Moonrise apps and website

    The moonrise was timed at 6:20 PM and I eagerly checked the Sky Map for the direction. I was in the middle of removing the plants from the aquarium but I dropped everything, grabbed the camera and tripod, a face towel, and went to the rooftop.

    Khobar Moonrise, Moonset, and Moon Phases: timeanddate.com/moon/@109323

    Sky Map app: https://play.google.com/store/apps/developer?id=Sky+Map+Devs&hl=en



    Silence and desolation

    As it is the month of Ramadan, the silence was expected. Too silent, actually. Add to that the curfew and the lockdown, the city looked more desolated from this view.

    Right after the prayer call, the silence was more apparent. The only sound I could hear was from the wind. Then something peculiar happened.


    The beautiful sound of prayer call

    This rooftop is like an extension of my room. I don’t know if anyone else goes here to chill other than me (how would I know, right?). I was expecting it would be hot but the wind was actually cool to the skin and strong enough to shake my tripod.

    At 6:10 PM, I was too early. I just needed to breathe.

    The sun had not set yet. The Maghrib, the sunset Islamic prayer, was yet to start.

    The prayer call is one of the most beautiful sound to me, especially if you’re on an elevated place like this where you can hear many mosques calling for prayer all at the same time.

    The most chilling part actually is when one mosque calls and second/s later another one starts, as if one masjid is answering to another’s call. In no time, you will be hearing calls from literally all directions.

    Mosques in Saudi Arabia are almost at ubiquitous and finding one is like finding a sari-sari store in the Philippines. That’s how they value praying.

    After almost a decade, this was just the first time I actually timed the prayer call (also recorded it) and it apparently runs for 2 minutes.


    Iftar: feast in the air

    Several minutes after the prayer call, the air started to smell of food.

    It was now Iftar.

    Muslims were now breaking their daily day-long fast. There was no distinct smell, but it was a delicious smell. Mixed in the air, I could imagine every Muslim family and expats happily enjoying their meal. Some might be just actually starting to cook, making the smell grow each minute.


    The last super moon of the year

    The western sky started to turn reddish as the sun disappeared in the horizon. On the opposite, the east grew darker and darker making the night lights brighter and brighter. The Sky Map app showed that the moon should be above the horizon by now. But I couldn't see any.





    I wasn’t actually very hopeful because there were too many buildings blocking the horizon. Without these buildings, the moon could've been seen rising from the Arabian Gulf, or even over the island of Bahrain, or the King Fahd Causeway.

    It is rare though that I’ve seen the moon rise above the horizon and it’s visibly bright right away. It usually takes time before the moon’s light pierce through the Arabian atmosphere. (Except for the clearer days, which is rare, and on more isolated places here.)

    It took about 20 minutes from the supposed moonrise time before I started to see the moon.





    Faintly.

    As the moon rose higher, I started taking photographs until it got brighter and brighter.




    The window time to shoot a moon isn’t even that long. As the moon rises, the details of its surface could be harder to photograph and it could be shrouded by clouds any moment.

    This moon watching wasn’t planned at all, but I am grateful to have witnessed the last supermoon of 2020.









    Final thoughts

    Moon-watching in itself is a brief experience. Just like most things in life.

    Like in foods, eating is usually perceived as the 'main event'. The preparation of the food and the washing of the dishes are seen as chores. It’s not easy to derive happiness from things that don’t give immediate pleasure to our senses.

    But maybe, we just need to be more observant, mindful, and appreciative and thankful for whatever we do and everything can feel less of a chore and more of a privilege.

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