Lunar eclipse seen from behind the Shaikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. Image Credit: Reuters

It's a rare treat for skywatchers as the longest "blood moon" eclipse of the 21st century started on Friday.

Astronomers and skywatchers in the UAE and across the globe have turned their eyes to the sky to catch a glimpse of the rare celestial phenomenon.

Cloudy skies played bit of a spoilsport as the moon played hide-and-seek with skygazers in UAE. 


As it progresses, Earth's natural satellite will turn a striking shade of red or ruddy brown.

The maximum eclipse will last nearly 103 minutes while the whole event will run from 9.14pm to 3.28am in the UAE.

On the same night and over the coming days, Mars will be at its closest point to Earth since 2003 - visible as a "bright red star" where skies are clear.

WATCH: Partial eclipse to begin soon

WATCH: Partial eclipse begins

WATCH: Heading towards maximum eclipse

WATCH: Reaches the maximum eclipse

Why so long?

The Moon will pass right through the centre of the Earth's shadow, at the shadow's widest point.

Explainer

Umbra: The darker, central part of the Earth's shadow

Penumbra: The lighter, outer part of the shadow cast by our planet

Penumbral eclipse begins: This starts when the outer (and lighter) part of the Earth's shadow begins moving across the Moon

Partial eclipse begins: This stage takes hold when the darker, inner part of the Earth's shadow (umbra) begins covering the Moon

Total eclipse begins: Also called totality, this occurs when the umbra completely covers the Moon, turning it a reddish brown colour

Maximum eclipse: The mid-point of totality

Total eclipse ends: The umbra starts moving away from the Moon's face after totality

Partial eclipse ends: Earth's umbra completely leaves the surface of the Moon

Penumbral eclipse ends: The outer part of the shadow (penumbra) completely moves away from the Moon

Timings (UAE)

9.14pm, July 27: Penumbral Eclipse begins

10.24pm, July 27: Partial Eclipse begins.

11.30pm, July 27: Total Eclipse begins.

12.21am, July 28: Maximum Eclipse.

01.13am, July 28: Total Eclipse ends

02.19am, July 28: Partial Eclipse ends

03.28am, July 28: Penumbral Eclipse ends

Source: Nasa and Al Sadeem Astronomy Observatory