Clouds could obscure solar eclipse in Philly area

An annular solar eclipse in May 2012, seen from downtown Denver as the sun sets behind the Rocky Mountains.

Update: The National Weather Service’s 12:15 p.m. forecast discussion makes no major changes in the earlier predictions for afternoon cloud cover.

Story:

Clouds — forecast for the Philadelphia area for Monday afternoon — are perhaps the last thing you want during a solar eclipse, unless you’re a party-pooper.

The question is: How much cloud cover will there be?

The National Weather Service is hedging its bets.

“There are three issues that complicate the forecast of clouds today,” the morning forecast discussion says.

You can go here to read the scientific discussion of those three factors. But for those wanting to cut to the chase, here’s the summary:

“The current sky-cover forecast is fairly optimistic east of the Delaware River (generally mostly sunny), somewhat more pessimistic from the Lehigh Valley west and northwest (increasing cloudiness this afternoon) and in between in Delmarva (partly to mostly sunny),” the NWS says.

LATER TODAY: Derrick Pitts, the Franklin Institute’s chief astronomer, will take your solar eclipse questions live on Philly.com’s Facebook page at 3 p.m. Monday, just after the eclipse’s peak in Philadelphia.

We will not see a total eclipse in the Philly area; we are in the 80 percent range. It will run from about 1:20 p.m. until 4 p.m. with the totality of the event in the sky over Philadelphia beginning at 2:44 p.m. and lasting 2 minutes and 40 seconds. Even with cloud cover, the eclipse should not be viewed without certified eye protection.

NASA also will broadcast the eclipse live, and you won’t need special glasses to watch.