x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Supermoon goes unseen in the UAE

UAE residents will have to wait another 18 years for supermoon after clouds obstruct view of the lunar event.

The supermoon seen from Dubai at around 10.15pm last night was covered by thick clouds.
The supermoon seen from Dubai at around 10.15pm last night was covered by thick clouds.

DUBAI // Stargazers in the UAE were left disappointed when clouds obscured the "supermoon" phenomenon last night.

Many were looking forward to seeing the full moon, which was to appear bigger and brighter last night at its closest position to the Earth in 18 years.

Scientists estimated the supermoon would appear 14 per cent bigger and 30 per cent brighter at its peak.

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But watchers yesterday could only guess at the moon's appearance through the clouds, or perhaps catch brief glimpses.

Full moons vary in size because of the elliptical shape of the moon's orbit, with one end closer to the Earth. Yesterday, the moon was about 356,469 kilometres away - the closest it has been to the Earth since March 1993.

A UAE-based astronomy group decided to shun its daily monitoring of the moon, fearing it would fuel superstitions that lunar events cause natural calamities.

Fears of a correlation between lunar events and natural disasters have increased, with some linking them to the earthquake that devastated Christchurch, New Zealand, on February 22 and the one that struck Haiti on January 12 last year. Some even believe the earthquake that struck Japan last week is linked to last night's supermoon.

These theories lack any scientific proof, said Hasan al Hariri, the chief executive of the Dubai Astronomy Group.

"The moon is not affecting earthquakes," he said. "The gravitational pull is too weak to affect Earth tectonics. There's a lot of superstition about it."

And those who missed their chance for a "bigger and better" sighting should not feel too bad: Mr al Hariri adds that the moon would have been too bright for meaningful observation.

* With additional reporting by the Associated Press