A dusty red moon known as a "blood moon" will be visible throughout the Western Hemisphere early Tuesday morning, the first of four such lunar eclipses over the next year and a half. But we may not be able to see much of it in the Philadelphia area due to cloudy skies.
A lunar eclipse comes only when a full moon aligns perfectly with the sun and Earth. During the eclipse, the Earth's shadow is cast across the moon, blocking the rays from the sun.
The moon turns red during an eclipse because the sunlight is refracted, similar to the way it is bent during a sunset.
Scientists say the eclipse will first appear dark gray and then turn red-orange.
For those in the tri-state area, the eclipse will begin at 1:58 a.m. Tuesday, and last for more than three hours. The best viewing time will be when everything is perfectly aligned, starting at 3:07 a.m., lasting 78 minutes.
However, due to cloudy conditions, residents in the Philadelphia area likely will only be able to catch glimpses of the eclipse as clouds move throughout the sky.
"The question is whether we're going to have enough breaks in the clouds around the time of the eclipse," said NBC10 First Alert meteorologist Sheena Parveen. "Most likely there will be too many clouds around but you may get lucky and see it with a couple breaks."
If you happen to miss Tuesday's eclipse because of the clouds, you'll get three more chances to see one between this year and the next. Three other blood moons will be visible Oct. 8, April 4, 2015 and Sept. 28, 2015.
Lunar eclipses are safe to watch without protective wear, unlike solar eclipses.