Dubai: The Super Blue Blood Moon “came into view late” but many viewers at the Al Thuraya Astronomy Centre in Dubai on Wednesday night were still left amazed with the rare celestial treat.
More than 500 residents came to the planetarium at Mushrif Park to observe the Supermoon combined with total lunar eclipse.
The moonrise was expected at 6.03pm in Dubai but it took time before the celestial body became visible to onlookers at 6.25pm. Thick clouds and haze obscured the view.
The crowd cheered as Hassan Al Hariri, CEO of Dubai Astronomy Group, made the announcement that the moon was already in full view after a short wait.
“The centre of the event is at the Pacific Ocean and the people in that area saw the event at midnight (their local time) for hours. [Here], we didn’t see the full total eclipse (when the moon was within the Earth’s darkest shadow) because of the clouds obscuring the view, but we still got to see the earth’s shadow on the moon which is still part of the eclipse,” Al Hariri said.
Many of the viewers comprised families and schoolchildren armed with binoculars. Astro-photography enthusiasts brought their gear to capture the event that was last seen more than 150 years ago.
Some 25 4-inch to 16-inch telescopes were available at the centre for a better view. The moon was visible to the naked eye and residents were quick to take videos and snapshots as soon as the moon came out of hiding. Despite the cold, brothers Vedant and Varad Ranade came with their mother and friends to see the Super Blue Blood Moon for the first time.
“I was excited to see the lunar eclipse. I like astronomy. I like to study the galaxy, how far they are from us and how little we are compared to them” Vedant, 14, told Gulf News.
The Indian student, who wants to become an astrophysicist when he grows up, said he would share his experience with his classmates the next day.
Jash Sumaria, 10, said he was excited to see the phenomenon that they only discuss in school.
“We came here to see the sun’s corona and the Supermoon,” Sumaria said.
Another student, Rhaine Jerao, 9, came to Dubai from Sharjah with her family to have a “good view”.
The crowd took turns viewing the moon through the telescopes on hand. Among them was Imran Akal, an amateur astronomer.
“The moon is really big and glowing. It’s much larger than what we’re seeing now. The top 2/3rds of the moon was still dark but the lower part is very bright,” Akal, a banker from Canada said, describing what he saw through the lens.
“I am an avid amateur astronomer and have been to many events but this feels different because the last time it happened was more than 150 years ago. It’s something to add to your memory,” he added.
Akal said though they had to wait, it was worth it.
“The first thing we amateur astronomers do is to check the weather and we already expected a little bit of low-lying clouds. So I was mentally prepared for the delay.”
Some viewers were seen using apps to view the location of the moon and other stars. Others just lay back on the grass and enjoyed the view.
Interest in astronomy in the UAE has grown over the years, Al Hariri said. Their group, which started with five members in 1993, has now grown to more than 8,000.
Fortunately for the UAE, there are more exciting celestial events lined up this year with another total lunar eclipse taking place on July 27.
“This total lunar eclipse [in July] is particilarly special because the centre is directly on top of the region, specifically over Riyadh, then will move to the UAE, then to Oman onwards. But that one will last for hours,” Al Hariri explained.