Eclipse forecast improving
Worries that increasing clouds leading to possible snow on Tuesday seemed to be easing Monday morning, giving renewed hope for Marylanders eager to see tonight's total eclipse of the moon.
Forecasters out at Sterling, in their morning forecast discussion, said it looks like we'll get an opening in the clouds tonight just long enough to catch at least part of the eclipse:
"Low-level stratocumulus will linger into the evening before clearing out. High clouds ahead the approaching front will begin to overspread the area late tonight. Therefore, most of the [forecast area] should have a mostly clear look at the lunar eclipse tonight."
Okay, so it's not quite unequivocal. But it's a pretty good forecast. I know I'll be out there to watch. Here, again, are the key times:
Partial eclipse begins: 1:32 a.m. The full moon begins to slide into the Earth's shadow.
Total eclipse begins: 2:41 a.m. The moon is now in total shadow, taking on what may be an eerie coppery color. It always looks strangely three-dimensional, too, at least to me.
Mid-eclipse: 3:17 a.m. This is the darkest part of the eclipse.
Total eclipse ends: 3:53 a.m. The moon begins to re-emerge from the Earth's shadow.
Partial eclipse ends: 5:01 a.m. The moon is now back in full, direct sunlight.
Be sure to stop back here after the show and share your impressions. Did you wake the kids for a look? How did they react? My grown kids still remember when I got them up for a lunar eclipse back in the '80s. It makes an impression.
The next lunar eclipse visible from Maryland is in 2014.
(SUN PHOTO: Total lunar eclipse, October 2004, Karl Merton Ferron)