It's looking like clouds will obscure Monday night's lunar eclipse for nearly all of the U.S. East Coast, but much of the West and Midwest should be able to see it.
As we wrote last week, the total eclipse of the moon — the first visible from North America since 2010 — will start a few minutes before 1 a.m. EDT and slowly continue over the next two hours until it peaks (reaches totality) about 3 a.m. Tuesday. On the West Coast, it starts about 10 p.m. Monday night and reaches totality just after midnight.
A bonus: This eclipse will be a "blood moon," in which our nearest celestial neighbor will look the color of a desert sunset. The reason? Because "even when the Earth moves directly between the moon and the sun, filtered sunlight still shines through Earth's atmosphere, making the moon appear red."
The Weather Channel forecasts heavy cloud cover for most of the eastern third of the country. But even if you miss the show, you'll get a few more chances over the next year or so. Monday night's event is the first of a "tetrad" of four consecutive lunar eclipses visible from North America coming at six-month intervals, with another in October and two more next year.
For a wonderfully entertaining version of this post, NPR's Adam Cole, guru at NPR's science tumblr, Skunk Bear, wrote this song, "Total Eclipse of the Moon," which pretty much sums it all up.