Tonight is the wonderful total lunar eclipse in Prime Time for the United States. No matter what the weather forecast, look outside tonight and give it a few minutes, at least, to see if the moon is visible. Any clouds may make it more artistic! This is an astronomical event for everyone of all ages – just viewing for the awe and sense of wonder – and no astronomical equipment needed, although a pair of binoculars can help you see more of the layers of color around the edge of the shadow on details on the moon. I hadn’t noticed that sometimes there is a thin arc of light blue light until people pointed it out me (that’s from light passing through the ozone layer in our stratosphere).
Here’s some thoughts in the meantime…..
The forecast for tonight’s skies has been varying from partly cloudy to cloudy. Now the National Weather Service is going with a scattered set of low clouds and a broken layer of high, but thin, clouds., and getting cloudier around midnight, when the eclipse will be mostly over…..
KHPN 271730Z 2718/2818 11007KT P6SM SCT040 BKN250 FM280000 VRB03KT P6SM SCT040 BKN250 FM280600 VRB02KT 3SM BR SCT008 BKN015 FM280900 VRB02KT 3SM BR BKN008 FM281400 VRB05KT 6SM BR SCT020 BKN250 Aviation Forecast for Westchester County Airport. Dates and times four hours ahead of us ( UTC, or 'Greenwich Mean Time' for us oldtimers. )
And our friends how make the Clear Sky Chart forecast from the Canadian forecast computer models are going for mostly clear, but hazy skies…..http://www.cleardarksky.com/c/DrprPrkNYkey.html
The Moon enters the dark shadow of the earth around 9:07pm EDT (adjust for your time zone)
The Moon will be deepest into the Earth’s Shadow around 10:47pm. The Moon will still be visible as some sunlight is refracted (bent) around the edge of the earth (where sunrise or sunset is occurring – that’s the reason for the reddish glow) as seen from the Moon.
In the meantime, look up today when you go into a shadow at the clouds around the sun and look for bright splashes of light to the right or left of the sun or a rainbow-like halo around the sun or in the sky above it. Yesterday many people saw a ‘rainbow’ (see Maureen Down’s column in the New York Times today) around the sun before Pope Francis’ Mass at Madison Square Garden. The can happen anytime (not just today!) when the sun in out with high thin clouds in our sky. If you block the sun with a building, it’s easier to see, if it’s there.