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Viewing conditions in question for tonights supermoon eclipse

Beginning at 8:00pm tonight, the Earth will pass directly between the sun and the moon, in what is also known as a lunar eclipse. The suns light will cast an orange/red shadow on the moon as it fragments around the Earth.

To make the eclipse even more memorable, the moon will be in what is known as “perigee” or a “supermoon”, which means it is at its closest point to the Earth this year in its orbit. This will make the moon appear 14 percent larger than it usually does, obviously making the eclipse even more outstanding than usual.

The main issue, tonight, will be the cloudiness in the sky. Clouds will obviously block the view of the moon and the eclipse if they are present in the night sky. Forecast models have been wildly inconsistent with cloud cover forecasts over the past few days.

Much of the uncertainty stems from a developing low pressure system, and an increasing easterly flow off the ocean waters. Clouds at various levels in the atmosphere will be promoted by increasing moisture content. But the latest models today have trended toward more broken clouds this evening in the middle and high levels of the atmosphere. This could allow much better viewing of the eclipse.

NAM model showing broken clouds tonight around 9:00pm when the eclipse begins.

NAM model showing broken clouds tonight around 9:00pm when the eclipse begins.

Forecast model cloud algorithms so far today have been quite inaccurate, however. Most of them showing clear conditions this afternoon are incorrect — with cloud cover fairly widespread throughout the area. So, obviously, uncertainty will remain high through this afternoon.

Important times to know during the eclipse:

8:11pm: The eclipse will begin. The reddish tint won’t be visible just yet, but things will be getting started.

10:11pm: The total eclipse will begin, with visible changes to the moons color and tint.

10:47pm: Total eclipse peaks. The moon will be fully red and eclipsed.

2033: The year that the next supermoon  lunar eclipse occurs. You can start planning now.

Over the next few hours, we’ll be updating this post with additional information on cloud cover and forecast models. The latest observations, obviously, will have a major impact on the forecast as well. Stay tuned, and get the binoculars and the telescopes ready!