Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Staircase To The Moon at Broome, Western Australia

My weekend holiday at Broome just a few days ago happened to nicely coincide with the Staircase To The Moon phenomenon. Great co-incidence!

This event is as much amazing for how half the town seems to go in to a frenzy of activity with tourists flocking to see the Moon rising, as it is amazing to actually see the moon rise, its reflection glistening in the draining mudflats below. Never have I seen a town use to such effective ends a recurring astronomical event!

This is not just about the moon rising.

It is the chattering on the streets the day before "are you going to see the stairway to the moon?" or "are you taking your market stall to the moon markets?". It's about families and kids having fun on a balmy summer's evening playing with glow-sticks, listening to live music, eating market food of all varieties. Its about the cheers as the first glimpse of the moon appears over the distant horizon of Roebuck Bay. It's amazing!

The evening starts with the markets and food in full swing ...

People at the Broome Staircase to the Moon markets.

People at the Broome Staircase to the Moon markets.

People begin to gather on the foreshore of Town Beach overlooking the mudflats at low tide ...
Town Beach (lit by market lights to the left), mudflats (centre) with a car and people looking for mud crabs (we think), and the Southern Cross and Pointers overhead.

Then the moon just barely starts to appear above the horizon, barely a thin slither but the first round of cheers can be heard from the crowd on the shores of the beach...

And finally, the grand event, the Staircase To The Moon  ...

The above photograph of the Staircase to the Moon includes silhouettes of people. I have to admit I was at first wishing them out the way. These are people who have walked out on to the mudflat to photograph the event. But in the end I think they are what make it for my photographs. The whole event is not just about the Moon, it's about the people interacting with the moonrise and the event. Having the silhouettes of people makes this a great photo I think. At full resolution you can clearly see they are enjoying the event, photographing it with their tripods and cameras.

I was surprised and taken by the interest in the event. Perhaps it's the build up of events leading to the finale, but in the end it was definitely a "wow" moment to experience, and now I think it is a must see if you are ever in Broome at the right time.

The Staircase to the Moon event is technically speaking the Moon rising behind a far eastern shore of Roebuck Bay in Broome. The combination of low tide, far reaching mudflats, and the eastern outlook of Town Beach provide the right combination of elements such that the rising moon is reflected in the potholes of water left in the mudflats.

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