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Ready for Wednesday's eclipse?

If tomorrow's predicted "Clipper" storm gets through the area in time, we could get enough clearing to catch at least part of the total lunar eclipse ocurring during much of the evening.

Wednesday's Sun will include a story on the event. For now, here are some online resources you can use to learn more about eclipses in general, and this one particularly.

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Here is NASA's eclipse page, with loads of data on this eclipse and many others in the past and future. NASA has also posted a page and some videos explainers for this event. Click here.

Never seen a lunar eclipse before? Here's a gallery of photos of past eclipses.

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Have you heard about the lunar eclipse that saved Christopher Columbus and his crew? You can read all about it here.

And, if we;re clouded-out here, you can watch the eclipse live through the magic of Web video  - and explore a lot more eclipse lore - at SpaceWeather.com.

This is the first total eclipse of the moon visible from Maryland from start to finish since October 2004, and the last visible anywhere until Dec. 21, 2010. (That's 12/21/2010 for you numerologists.)

Lunar eclipses occur when the sun, the Earth and the moon line up, in that order. The full moon, in its orbit around the Earth, slides into the Earth's shadow and gradually grows dimmer and reddish in color. The transition moves from one side of the moon's disk to the other as seen from Earth. After a period of totality, the moon begins to emerge again from the shadow, and slowly regains its usual brilliance.

Here are the important times to remember fo this event: The partial phase of the eclipse begins at 8:43 p.m. EST. The moon will begin to slide into the Earth's "umbra," the darkest core of the shadow the planet casts into space. Over the next hour and a quarter, the moon will be gradually swallowed up by the shadow, and grow dimmer.

At 10 p.m., the moon's disk will be totally in shadow, taking on an eerie, reddish glow and strikingly spherical appearance. Binoculars will enhance the view.

Totality will last until 10:52 p.m., when the moon will begin to emerge again from the Earth's shadow. It will be restored to full, direct sunlight by 12:09 a.m. Thursday morning.

A number of local astronomers, groups and observatories are planning public viewing events. Here are some links to information:

Baltimore's Streetcorner Astronomer Herman Heyn will set up in the 3100 block of St. Paul St., in Charles Village, at 9 p.m., weather permitting. Here's hoping.

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