To See, or Not to See?
Posted February 20, 2008 7:34 a.m. EST
Updated February 20, 2008 7:55 a.m. EST
That is the question, as relates to the total lunar eclipse on tap for this evening (Wed, Feb 20 2008). A cold front will moving through the Triangle and surrounding areas this evening from the northwest, and while it is unlikely to bring precipitation (just a slender chance of a sprinkle or flurry for about the northern third of our area) it may produce a layer of clouds with bases around 5-6 thousand feet and tops around 8-10 thousand feet above the ground. At this time, it appears the clouds may vary between scattered and nearly overcast during the eclipse period, which runs from around 8 pm to midnight, with totality from 10:01 to 10:51 pm.
Clouds may tend to be more prevalent across northern parts of our viewing area, with more breaks in the coverage south of the Triangle. For now, it still looks to be worthwhile to get out and have a look from time to time tonight, because there could be a few nice glimpses at the moon, either as its disk is "eaten away" by the earth's shadow, or during the total eclipse period when it takes on a deep coppery orange color. Plan to dress for temperatures in the low to mid 40s. Be sure to check in with Greg and Mike during the evening weathercasts, to see if the forecast has changed and to get an update on where and how extensive the clouds may be.
Note that as the moon reaches totality this evening, it will be located rather high in the southeastern sky, with the planet Saturn visible just below and to the left of the moon, and the star Regulus just above the lunar disk. For more on the eclipse, see this week's Carolina Skies blog at http://www.wral.com/weather/blogpost/2450283/. Keep your fingers crossed for breaks in the cloud cover, and enjoy!