I observed the lunar eclipse last Sunday evening in the comfort of a hot tub. The air temperature was 20 degrees while the water temperature was 104 degrees. Occasionally I would submerge my head to warm up my nose.

The moon did take on a red/orange hue during the eclipse. The sky was surprisingly crystal clear after the storm passed. It’s really more difficult to identify the constellations when so many of the dimmer stars are visible. I learned to identify the important celestial navigation stars while at Maine Maritime. The methods that they were teaching at the time weren’t sticking in my head very well. Then I discovered a book by the children’s author of the Curious George books, H. A. Rey. His book, The Stars, A New Way To See Them, made it easy to find any star as well as the constellations. When I look at the Big Dipper now, I can’t help but see Ursa Major’s nose, shoulders and stubby tail plus the toes of both its fore and hind feet.

The big snow storm that buried many states in feet of snow luckily affected the Vineyard only as a quick freeze after two inches of rain. We here on the islands had nothing to shovel and no broken power lines. On the other hand, your car doors may have been frozen shut the next day. If you solved that problem by pouring a saucepan of hot water around the edges of the door you were frozen in again by the time you reached your destination. But at least you had the whole door to push on as opposed to pulling on a-hard-to-grip door handle.

The air temperature was still above freezing until sunset Sunday evening. Twenty-four hours later it was only seven degrees and the freshwater ponds had iced over. By Tuesday afternoon the ice was thick enough for skating. There were no blade marks on Brine’s Pond or Slipaway Pond. I’m not surprised though since it was so terribly cold and breezy. I had my skates with me but decided that I shouldn’t be the first out on the ice alone.

Back when my daughters were little, there would be a dozen folks at once out on Brine’s Pond. We had some pretty fierce hockey games. That meant that often there would be a concentration of players in too small of an area, causing the brittle ice to crack under the strain. We didn’t fall through, but it made your hair stand on end. I had to remind kids that if the ice started to crack that they needed to spread out rather to obey their first instinct, which was to rush over to hang on to me for safety. I was usually the skater with the greatest gravitational pull. Everyone else figured that if the ice held me it would hold them.

Also, by Tuesday afternoon, Caleb’s Pond and Pocha Pond were covered with icy slush that hadn’t quite reached the shore. The same type of slush on Cape Pogue Bay and Katama Bay had blown over to their down-wind sides leaving them mostly open water. The two sailboats still moored in Edgartown Harbor had mustaches of ice along their water lines. Small rafts of ice floated past the ferry slips on the tide. By the time the paper hits the newsstands all of that salt ice will be gone. It starts melting at 28 degrees.

Those of you who read the Gazette online before the printed paper comes out will be happy to know that Elizabeth Whelan’s free art workshop is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 24 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. The next one is two weeks later on Thursday, Feb. 8.

If you are up before sunrise these days look towards the southeast sky to see two very bright objects close together low in the sky. They are Venus and Jupiter. Bright Venus is above slightly dimmer Jupiter. On Jan. 27, they will be only 2.4 degrees apart. That’s less than an inch apart at arms length. After the sun and moon, these two rank as the brightest celestial objects. There is something inexplicably stunning about this considering that they are just two pin points of light.

Send Chappy news to peterchappyferry@gmail.com.