Dubai: Five astronomy centres in the country are organising special observation nights on Friday to give the public a chance to witness in detail the 21st century’s longest total lunar eclipse.
Touted as the night of the ‘Red Moon’ and the ‘Red Planet’, Friday’s celestial event will be a treat to moon gazers as it will turn blood red or reddish brown as the Earth’s shadow covers it when it aligns with the Earth and the sun.
The maximum eclipse will last nearly 103 minutes while the whole event will run from 9.14pm to 3.28am in the UAE.
The celestial treat also coincides with the Mars Opposition, when the Red Planet and the sun are directly on opposite sides of the Earth.
The UAE Space Agency is holding a series of observation points throughout the UAE to give residents the opportunity to witness the eclipse and learn more about the event through astronomy talks.
Dr Mohammad Al Ahbabi, director-general of the UAE Space Agency, said they are sponsoring these observation events to elicit interest from the public and inspire the youth to the UAE’s national space sector and the UAE’s advanced astronomy centres and their world-class capabilities.
“The popularity, especially among the youth, of previous observation events organised or sponsored by the agency encouraged us to take advantage of this unique opportunity to engage with the public,” Dr Al Ahbabi said.
Mohammad Shawkat Odeh, director of the International Astronomical Centre, said the night has so much to offer since many planets can also be seen that night.
“This is the best time of the year to see a number of our solar system’s planets. After sunset, Venus appears in the west as a bright white body, it is the third brightest object in the sky after the sun and moon. Jupiter can also be seen on the south-west side also appearing as a bright white object, and with the use of telescopes four of its moons, its Great Red Spot, and its Equatorial Belts can be seen.”
“Saturn will also be visible in the south and by using a telescope its rings and some of the belts on the planet’s disk will also be visible. As for Mars, during this period of time it can be seen clearly using nothing but the naked eye, located to the east as a bright orange object,” he added.
Alejandro Palado, director at Al Sadeem Astronomy Observatory in Abu Dhabi, said they are expecting a huge crowd this time and gave pointers to moon gazers.
“If you’re planning to travel to observatory centres in the country, it’s better to come prepared because the whole event will run for six hours. We’re expecting clear skies, some breeze, and temperature of around 35C. But please bring your own mats and chairs as it will be a long night. You can also bring water and food if the centre you’re going to allows it,” Palado told Gulf News.
“But for those who don’t have time and the means to go to the observatory centres, they can just go out or observe it from outside their homes,” he added.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN
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
01.13am, July 28: Total Eclipse ends
02.19am, July 28: Partial Eclipse ends. Moon starts moving away from the centre of the Earth’s shadow
03.28am, 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. You can watch it from wherever you are.
Astronomy centres (for more detailed view)
Al Sadeem Astronomy Observatory will also have a special viewing for the public starting at 8pm. Admission is free.
International Astronomical Centre
Location: Corniche Road opposite the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) building
Emirates Mobile Observatory
Location: Marina Mall
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.
Location: Mushrif Park, Dubai
Sharjah Centre for Astronomy and Space Sciences
Location: University of Sharjah