If skies are clear tonight and early Tuesday, April 15, stargazers will see a rare natural phenomenon: a total lunar eclipse.
Eclipses occurs two or three times per year when the sun, Earth and the full moon line up so that the moon passes through Earth's shadow. Tuesday's eclipse will be the last full lunar eclipse visible from the United States until 2019, NASA said.
The moon will be above the horizon for North America all night, so Whatcom County residents should be able to watch - if the weather cooperates. The eclipse will occur from 10:58 p.m.-2:33 a.m., with mid-eclipse falling at 12:46 a.m., according to skyandtelescope.com.
During the eclipse's total phase, no sunlight falls directly upon the moon's landscape because the Earth blocks the sun. The only illumination comes from the coppery colors of a continuous ring of sunrises and sunsets bent into the shadow by the thin rim of atmosphere encircling the Earth.
During totality, the moon might turn light orange to almost black. The color depends on the amount of cloudiness and dust in the Earth's atmosphere.
Another noteworthy event this month will be the Lyrids meteor shower, which will peak early on April 22, according to the American Meteor Society. Shooting stars — forecasters are expecting 10-20 meteors per hour — should be most visible in the early morning before dawn.
Technology makes it easier to predict which nights will be prime for stargazing. Websites such as cleardarksky.com make it easy to look up cloud cover and visibility in the near future, as well as offer light pollution maps to show which areas have the darkest skies at night.