Dubai: You don’t have to go anywhere next weekend to witness what is touted as the night of the ‘Red Moon’ and ‘Red Planet’ on July 27.
Just stepping out of your house in the UAE will do.
The moon will turn blood red or reddish brown on July 27 as the Earth’s shadow covers the moon when the two celestial bodies align with the sun during a total lunar eclipse.
Lasting 103 minutes, this eclipse is the 21st century’s longest and is visible from most parts of the world except North America.
The celestial treat also coincides with the Mars Opposition, when the Red Planet and the sun are directly on opposite sides of the Earth.
Hassan Al Hariri, chief executive of Dubai Astronomy Group, said moon gazers can view the event with their naked eye from anywhere in the country.
“The centre of the event is happening almost in the UAE and how we know that is from the timing itself. It will be at midnight exactly. The best place to observe it will be in the UAE, the Middle East, in general. But this eclipse will be visible, even partially, all the way going from Australia, Asia, coming down to Africa, Europe and also South America,” Al Hariri told Gulf News.
“It’s one of the easiest and safest to observe in the night sky. So there’s no need for you to go anywhere or have any protection for your eyes. Simply come out and look up at midnight and you’ll see the eclipse,” he added.
The eclipse will be the longest this time since the moon is at its farthest from the earth, appearing smaller, and will be entering the centre of the earth’s shadow.
Other planets will also be visible in the night sky that weekend.
“Mars is coming very close. It’s the second time it’s coming so close to Earth after 2003. Mars is now in the sky; people can see it after 9pm. It’s a shiny reddish planet on the east horizon and it’s easy to spot,” Al Hariri said.
Al Hariri, however, pointed out that Mars will not appear as big as the moon.
“It will look like a star from the naked eye. But if you look through a telescope. You can see its features like the ice caps, the dust storm that is happening there now. So this will be very interesting.”
Al Hariri encouraged enthusiasts who want to see a more detailed view of the celestial bodies through telescopes to come to Al Thuraya Astronomy Centre in Dubai. A special talk explaining the phenomenon will also be held. Those in Abu Dhabi may visit Al Sadeem Astronomy Observatory.
“One of the beautiful views that night is we can see Venus and in the middle of the sky we will see Jupiter and its moons, and at the same time we will see in the east horizon Saturn and its moons and rings before Mars comes up,” Al Hariri explained.
Al Hariri advised enthusiasts to avoid driving to the desert to observe the moon as it is unsafe.
Penumbral: (lighter part of the shadow) 6hrs, 13min, 48sec
Umbral: (shadow’s dark centre) 3hrs, 54min, 32sec
Total: (total lunar) 1hr, 42min, 57sec
■ 9.14pm, July 27: Penumbral Eclipse begins. The Earth’s penumbra start touching the Moon’s face.
■ 10.24pm, July 27: Partial Eclipse begins. Moon starts turning red.
■ 11.30pm, July 27: Total Eclipse begins. Moon will turn completely blood red or reddish brown.
■ 12.21am, July 28: Maximum Eclipse. Moon is closest to the centre of the shadow.
■ 1.13am, July 28: Total Eclipse ends.
■ 2.19am, July 28: Partial Eclipse ends. Moon starts moving away from the centre of the Earth’s shadow.
■ 3.28am, July 28: Penumbral Eclipse ends.
Source: Nasa and Al Sadeem Astronomy Observatory
Where to go
Total Lunar Eclipse will be visible everywhere in the UAE.
■ In Dubai, Al Thuraya Astronomy Centre will hold a special observation night starting at 9pm. This is a ticketed event. For more information, visit www.dubaiastronomy.com.
■ In Abu Dhabi, Al Sadeem Astronomy Observatory will also have a special viewing for the public starting at 8pm. Admission is free.