Total lunar eclipse: Answering your “blood moon” questions

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By A Times Staff Writer

The first total eclipse of 2014 tonight and Tuesday morning is generating much attention. Times reporter Rong-Gong Lin II answers your questions about the so-called blood moon.

Q: Will L.A. be able to see this eclipse?

It will be the first in more than three years to be visible from Los Angeles and uninterrupted by sunrise. The last one began the evening of Dec. 20, 2010, with the eclipse’s peak at 12:17 a.m. Dec. 21, according to the observatory.

Q: When is the best time to watch?

In Los Angeles, the most impressive part will begin at 10:58 p.m. when the first “bite” is taken out of the moon. It will be blotted out entirely by 12:06 a.m. Tuesday, said experts at the observatory.

Look to the south for the moon, said Joe Sirard, an amateur astronomer who is also a National Weather Service meteorologist in Oxnard.

As the “bite” spreads across the moon, it will transform into a dark “blood moon.” The dark red hue will come from the light of sunsets and sunrises over the rest of the Earth.

If you plan to watch the eclipse, try not to be too late, he said.

Once the eclipse “becomes total … it might be somewhat hard to see at that point,” Sirard said.

Q: What else will I see?

It will also be a great time to see Mars, which will be the brightest point of light near the moon, Sirard said. The second-brightest will be the star Spica in the constellation Virgo.

Q: How will the weather be?

The weather forecast for prime “blood moon” viewing in Los Angeles couldn’t be much better.

“We’ll have clear skies — even down to the beaches,” Sirard said.

Temperatures Monday night will dip into the 50s, with winds of about 15 mph in the Los Angeles Basin.

Q: Will there be a lot of people at the Griffith Observatory?

Possibly. Officials are expecting big crowds. The observatory will be open to visitors, who can look up at the eclipse either from the building itself or from the grass and sidewalk areas. Experts will also provide presentations on the eclipse.

 

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