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The Skies are Clear, Time for a Lunar Eclipse

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Photo of the March 3rd, 2007 total lunar eclipse by Mr. Last Minute via Flickr

Look up! Whether it's a plane, a bird or Superman, the sky is clearing up. And that means earlier fears of tonight's 7:01 p.m. total Lunar Eclipse viewing being blocked by clouds in Los Angeles can go wayside (Update: the moment we published this, the Valley started to get hit by cloud cover, but it seems on and off, cross your fingers). And thank the good gods of this city because this is the last time for this until 2010 (by contrast, we had two last year).

If you're planning on taking pictures, Yahoo has a great article on how to properly photograph the eclipse and if you want to join fellow web savvy Angelenos, it looks like a mass of kids are gathering at Griffith Park. In order to best plan your viewing, we've pieced together timing information from the LA Times and NASA. Here's the low-down for tonight:

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The Breakdown
5:33 PM -- Moonrise
5:41 PM -- Sunset
5:43 PM -- Partial Eclipse
7:01 PM -- Total Eclipse Begins
7:26 PM -- Mid-Eclipse
7:51 PM --Total Eclipse Ends
9:09 PM -- Partial Eclipse Ends

How it Works (via LA Times)

A total lunar eclipse occurs when the full moon passes into Earth's shadow and is blocked from the sun's rays that normally illuminate it. During an eclipse, the sun, Earth and moon line up, leaving a darkened moon visible to observers on the night side of the planet. The moon doesn't go black because indirect sunlight still reaches it after passing through the Earth's atmosphere. Since the atmosphere filters out blue light, the indirect light that reaches the moon transforms it into a reddish or orange tinge, depending on how much dust and cloud cover are in the atmosphere at the time.

And for fun, since you're looking into the sky: what about that spy satellite that the government is trying to shoot down?
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Track it here.

LAist News Editor Andy Sternberg contributed research to this story. Lunar Eclipse graphic via AP/NASA