By Peninsula Daily News and
The Associated Press
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Hopefully it won't be too cloudy tonight — bright, red Mars is near the moon tonight, the night of the lunar eclipse. Red Mars and a reddish or orange moon. It doesn't get any better. The star Spica is nearby, too. READ MORE: http://earthsky.org/tonight/total-lunar-eclipse-for-the-americas-on-night-of-april-14-15
North and South America are preparing for the first eclipse of the year.
And it should be colorful — reddish or even orange.
Late Monday night (tonight) and early Tuesday morning, the moon will be eclipsed by Earth's shadow.
However, the National Weather Service this morning said the North Olympic Peninsula will be covered with clouds — and there's a 30 percent to 40 percent chance of showers after 11 p.m. depending on how far west you are on the Peninsula.
The likelihood of showers will increase Tuesday, forecasters said.
This lunar eclipse will be visible across the Western Hemisphere. (In much of Europe and Africa, the moon will be setting, so there won't be much, if anything, to see.)
On the North Olympic Peninsula, the eclipse will begin at 10:59 p.m. Monday (as the moon moves into Earth's shadow), and the moon will be covered at 12:08 a.m. Tuesday (when the entire moon is shaded by Earth).
The eclipse will last until 1:23 a.m., then peel back over the next two hours.
The moon will be high in the sky, but typical Peninsula cloud cover is scheduled to return after a weekend of sunny, clear skies — possibly blocking all or part of the show.
Still, local amateur astronomers recommend that people check on the eclipse through the night because even with a cloud clover, there are often gaps that will allow for glimpses of the eclipse.
Red or orange
Even though the moon is in the Earth's shadow, it should appear a bit colorful, some shade of red or orange.
That's from light around the edges of the Earth — essentially sunrises and sunsets — splashing on the lunar surface and faintly lighting up the moon, said Alan MacRobert, senior editor at Sky & Telescope magazine.
"Although the mainstream media is calling this a 'blood moon,' the color is more likely to be bright orange," according to the spaceweather.com web site. "At the moment, Earth's stratosphere is not dusty enough produce a shadow with the deep red hues of blood."
The last total lunar eclipse was Dec. 10, 2011. It was visible across Clallam and Jefferson counties because clouds stayed low on the horizon.
On April 29, the Southern Hemisphere will be treated to a rare type of solar eclipse. In all, four eclipses will occur this year, two lunar and two solar.
May damage spacecraft
Tuesday's lunar eclipse may damage a NASA spacecraft that's been circling the moon since fall. But no worries: it's near the end of its mission.
The robotic orbiter LADEE (pronounced LA'-dee) was never designed to endure a lengthy eclipse. Scientists don't know if it will withstand the prolonged cold of the hours-long eclipse.
Even if it freezes up, LADEE will crash into the far side of the moon the following week as planned, after successfully completing its science mission.
In an online contest, NASA is asking the public to guess the impact time. Scientists expect LADEE's doomsday to occur on or before April 21.
LADEE stands for Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer. The science-collecting portion of the mission went into overtime at the beginning of March.