Most of the Sidewalk astronomers are staying home, otherwise engaged, or doing school or scouting events that aren't reliant on guaranteed viewing tonight. We have been looking on Weather.com, or weather underground and the forecast is cloud cover/poor transparent skies for Pasadena and much of Southern California. Your eyes are the best observing tool for lunar eclipses. So take a break from the football games and check out the sky after 7:30p.m. that's when the first "bite" will show. I like to sketch the moon, and one thing you could do is draw some circles like the sketching example (on a sheet of paper secured on a clipboard.) Fill in the amount of shadow you observe and show the time you observe it below your sketch and draw or mark any prominent features you see. I'll try to do the same at my scouting event tonight.
Sketching example from Erika Rix publisshed in Astronomy Magazine: http://www.astronomy.com/magazine/erika-rix/2014/08/sketching-a-lunar-eclipse
Lunar features annotated https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_lunar_features#/media/File:Moon_names.svg
Here are times of key eclipse events:
before eclipse - note the features you see on the full moon
7:33 pm Moon enters the Earth’s inner shadow (first bite)
8:40 pm Totality begins (moon is covered in shadow)
9:12 pm Mid-eclipse
9:43 pm Totality ends (moon emerges from shadow)
10:51 pm Moon exits the earth's inner shadow
One or two astronomers may be on the corner of Myrtle and Lime from 7:30 - 8:30 or 9 tonight, to look for the moon through the expected clouds and possibly aim binoculars if there are fleeting views. Don't make a special trip, but if you are planning to walk around Monrovia tonight, you may see an astronomer or two with binoculars, no promise of a telescope. I don't think the astronomers will stay past the beginning of totality at 8:40 p.m., so your best bet is to look up from your own place if you can see the moon. Your eyes turn out to be the best instrument for viewing lunar eclipses. I'm bringing binoculars and wishful thinking to a girl scout event tonight.
From the Griffith Observatory announcement:
Griffith Observatory has a warning about crowds, and traffic and
lots of great info here. If you plan on going, be prepared to
either go several hours before 7:30 p.m. or go late, and park
miles away & walk.
There are other cool astronomical events coming up so don't let the clouds dampen your stargazing enthusiasm! https://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/in/usa/los-angeles
See you all soon!
-- Jane Houston Jones Astronomer, music lover, storyteller NASA's January What's Up has not been posted due to partial gov't shutdown, sorry, but I'm retired!