Lunar eclipse may be visible Wednesday if weather cooperates | SierraSun.com

Lunar eclipse may be visible Wednesday if weather cooperates

Andrew Pridgen
Sun News Service

The first total lunar eclipse visible in Northern California and Nevada in almost a half-decade may literally be overshadowed by Mother Nature and the pending Pacific storm system setting down in the region today.

The eclipse, which occurs when the Earth’s shadow falls completely across the moon, will take place from 7 to 7:52 p.m. Wednesday; local meteorologists said this week it’s a “longshot” but there is a chance the eclipse could come “precisely” between storm systems.

“It will actually be really interesting to see if the clouds part right in time ” it could happen,” said Mark Deutschendorf a meteorologist from the National Weather Service Reno office who noted the storms will bring mostly rain to the Carson Valley with wet “Sierra cement” snow to Lake Tahoe. “We’re going to have high clouds that night, and as the moon rises, it actually will almost be eclipsed.

“It may not be a total bust ” if this is timed right, we could see a short window of viewability.”

Those who miss the eclipse will have to wait until Dec. 20, 2010, to see another similar event.

Officials from WNC’s Jack C. Davis Observatory still are holding out hope the clouds will part in time to view the event Wednesday at the campus.

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A night of “sky watching” is slated at the observatory, located on the north end of campus, officials said.

“Weather forecasts for Wednesday call for mostly cloudy weather,” observatory director and physics professor Robert Collier said. “But if the eclipse is visible to the naked eye, it can be seen in dramatic detail through telescopes at the observatory.”

Collier, staff and volunteers from the Western Nevada Astronomical Society will answer questions and provide information about the eclipse starting at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

The observatory features three telescopes available for viewing the eclipse.