Dubai: Astronomy groups in the UAE are arranging public viewing to offer the best view of the very rare celestial treat of the year — the Super Blue Blood Moon — this Wednesday (January 31).
This lunar trifecta, as Nasa describes it, is a combination of three events at the same time: a blue moon, a supermoon and a total lunar eclipse. (See box) The upcoming eclipse will be the “first total eclipse of a blue moon in nearly 152 years,” space.com’s calculation revealed.
To get a front-row seat to view the total eclipse, the east coast in Fujairah is the perfect spot, depending on the weather, Ebrahim Al Jarwan, deputy director-general of the Sharjah Centre for Astronomy and Space Sciences, told Gulf News.
Hassan Al Hariri, CEO of Dubai Astronomy Group, said if the weather is ideal on Wednesday, residents in Dubai will see the total eclipse for about three minutes but Fujairah residents will see it for longer.
“If you are in Fujairah, you will see the total eclipse two minutes earlier than everyone else in the country and will have a longer time to see it — about five minutes — because you are closer to it,” he told Gulf News.
“In Dubai, if you are in Burj Khalifa, you have the advantage of seeing the total eclipse approximately one minute ahead everyone else in Dubai,” he added.
But if you’re not on the east coast and you can’t go to Burj Khalifa, three astronomy groups in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Sharjah have got you covered as they are holding special public viewing in their observatories and are giving out fun lectures about the phenomenon on the day.
Residents who want to view the whole celestial treat must be at the three observatories well before sunset or before 6pm in order to get a good view. The total lunar eclipse is visible in the UAE after sunset between 6.03pm and 6.07pm depending on which emirate you’re in and weather permitting. The partial eclipse will last until 7.11pm while the supermoon will last the whole night.
“We will only be able to see a short glimpse of the total eclipse when the moon rises in the UAE unlike in other countries due to the time difference. In countries in the Pacific like the Philippines, they will see the eclipse for a longer period,” Alejandro Palado, observatory director at Al Sadeem Astronomy in Abu Dhabi, said.
Mohammad Talasha, an observer at the Sharjah Centre for Astronomy and Space Sciences, said they are expecting roughly 250 people on January 31. Besides offering the facilities of the centre, they will also hold scientific experiments related to the event.
Lunar trifecta: All you need to know:
What is a Blue Moon?
Normally, one full moon happens in a calendar month. When two full moons happen within one calendar month, it’s called a blue moon. January’s first full moon happened on the first day and another one is scheduled on the last day of January.
What is a Supermoon?
A supermoon — where the moon appears seven per cent larger than an average full moon — happens when the moon is at a point in its elliptical orbit that is closest to earth called perigee.
What is a total lunar eclipse?
A total lunar eclipse happens when the sun, earth, and moon align and the earth’s umbra (the darker, central shadow) completely covers the moon. The earth’s atmosphere also blocks parts of the sunlight’s spectrum, leaving only the longer wavelengths that give the moon a reddish orange or blood red hue.
Where’s the best spot to view the Super Blue Blood Moon?
An unobstructed view of the horizon from a high point is key. Fujairah on the east coast is the best spot.
In Dubai, if you’re in Burj Khalifa, you will see the eclipse one minute earlier than others in the emirate.
Where I can go for the public viewing in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Sharjah?
Dubai: Al Thuraya Astronomy Centre in Mushrif Park
What to expect: Naked-eye observation, telescopic observation, and astro-photography opportunities, presentation and a question-and-answer session.
Time: 5.30pm onwards
Moonrise in Dubai: 6.03pm
Abu Dhabi: Al Sadeem Astronomy
What to expect: Open House, naked-eye observation, telescopic observation, Q&A sessions, observatory tour
Time: 6pm to 9pm (but be there before 6pm)
Location: Near MRM Stable in Al Wathba South
Moonrise in Dubai: around 6.07pm
Sharjah: Sharjah Centre for Astronomy and Space Sciences
What to expect: Naked-eye observation, telescopic observation, Q&A sessions, scientific experiments
Time: 5.30pm to 8pm
What if I can’t go to these locations, where can I watch?
You can watch online. Nasa will be live streaming the event through https://www.nasa.gov/nasalive.
If you’re in Dubai and you have a clear view of the horizon (0degrees), for example you’re somewhere on Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Road, look towards the direction of Sharjah and the moon rise should be on your right-hand side. Or locate the sunset and turn 180 degree, that’s where the moon will rise.
Do I need special glasses to view the moon?
No. It is visible to the naked eye. But telescopes can give a good viewing experience.