Emirates will have the clearest, most extended view of the "blood moon" phenomenon on July 27
UAE best place to see longest lunar eclipse of 21st century, say astronomers
The UAE will be the best location worldwide to see the longest lunar eclipse of the 21st century, astronomers say.
On the night of July 27, the moon will enter the shadow of the earth for four hours, creating a total lunar eclipse that will be seen across Australasia, Asia, Africa, Europe and South America.
For five hours, starting from around 9.15pm, the moon will slowly turn from white to red and back as the sun, earth and moon align in the sky.
The full eclipse “blood moon” will be visible for one hour and 43 minutes from 11.30pm until 1.13am, making it the longest total eclipse period of all the 228 lunar eclipses between the year 2000 to 2100, according to Nasa.
And the UAE will be at the centre of the event, say astronomers.
“If you look at the geometry of the set up and where we will be when this event happens, and you project this over the map of the earth, you will find beautiful images from Nasa of the Middle East, and the UAE in particular, at the centre of the event,” said Hasan Al Hariri, chief executive of Dubai Astronomy Group.
In Japan, the moon will be setting during the period of the total eclipse, while in Europe it will be rising. But the total eclipse will take place here during midnight, when the moon is at its highest, making the UAE the best place to see the event.
“That’s the beauty, we are at the centre of it. The UAE is the best place to observe it, as it will have the longest time. And we will be able to see it very clearly,” Mr Al Hariri said.
The sky will feature another rare, and unrelated, event the same night — the opposition of Mars, when the planet will pass closer to the earth making it appear brighter in the sky. The only time it has been brighter in the last 60,000 years was in 2003. And the next time it will pass by as close to the earth will be in 2035.
“The planets do not move around the sun in a circular orbit. They orbit in an egg shaped orbit. So sometimes they become close to the sun, and sometimes they are further away,” Mr Al Hariri said.
That night four planets — Venus, Saturn, Jupiter and Mars — will be visible to the naked eye.
“What could be better than that?” Mr Al Hariri asked.
Al Thuraya Astronomy Centre is arranging a special event to celebrate the celestial events in Mushrif Park from 9pm to 2am.
It will include a presentation, dinner, plus the opportunity to see the sky through telescopes. Tickets cost Dh50 for members, Dh150 for non-member adults and Dh100 for children below the age of 15, rising to Dh125 for children and Dh200 for adults from July 25 onwards. They are available at www.q-tickets.com/uae/events/Total_Lunar_Eclipse.