Good viewing probable for total lunar eclipse

Weather appears promising to view the total lunar eclipse on April 15.
BY WAYNE HARRIS-WYRICK, For The Oklahoman Published: April 1, 2014
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After a long celestial drought, Oklahomans finally get to see a total lunar eclipse.

The last time anyone on Earth had an opportunity to witness a total lunar eclipse occurred Dec. 10, 2011. That one was visible in Australia, China and Southeast Asia. The last time Oklahomans had an opportunity to see one was almost a year prior, Dec. 21, 2010. According to Weather Underground (www.wunderground.com), Oklahoma City experienced “scattered clouds” during the entire time frame of that eclipse. From my house, I could occasionally glimpse the moon through holes in the clouds, never for more than a few seconds.

For the total lunar eclipse visible from Oklahoma before that, Feb. 21, 2008, our skies were overcast. Ditto for the total lunar eclipses of Oct. 28, 2004; May 16, 2003; Jan 21, 2000; and, well, you get the idea. In fact, you’ll have to go back to Nov. 29, 1993, for the last total lunar eclipse where the weather here in Oklahoma cooperated throughout the entire event.

We get another shot at seeing an entire lunar eclipse — a pretty decent one — on April 15. The moon hits the edge of Earth’s shadow at 12:58 a.m. Totality begins at 2:06 a.m., with the deepest eclipse occurring at 2:46 a.m. The moon just misses the center of our planet’s shadow, and hence the deepest possible lunar eclipse, but, considering we have had none to see with cloudless skies for more than 20 years, this one should be pretty dramatic.

The weather for this eclipse appears promising. According to WeatherSpark, the sky on April 15 in Oklahoma City is mostly clear: “The median cloud cover ranges from 10 percent (mostly clear) to 39 percent (mostly clear).” And the timing of this eclipse seems particularly fortuitous for this date because: “At midnight, the clearest time of the day, the sky is clear, mostly clear, or partly cloudy 68 percent of the time, and overcast or mostly cloudy 32 percent of the time.” So when the eclipse begins, the cloud cover is typically at a minimum for that date. If the weather doesn’t cooperate, we’ll have to wait until Jan. 21, 2019, for the next total lunar eclipse over Oklahoma. But here’s the date to circle on your calendar: Aug. 21, 2017. A total eclipse of the sun passes right through the middle of the United States, just a bit north of Oklahoma. Plan a trip to St. Louis, or Lincoln, Neb., to see that total solar eclipse. And hope for clear skies.

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