Guide to watch the longest lunar eclipse this century in the UAE

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A full moon "Super Blue Blood Moon" rises in Nicosia, Cyprus January 31, 2018. REUTERS/Yiannis Kourtoglou

Find out here where and when to watch Friday’s lunar eclipse in the UAE.

The longest lunar eclipse of the century happens this Friday – and astrologers say the UAE is one of the best places in the world to watch the event.

The moon will be eclipsed by the earth’s shadow for three hours and 55 minutes on Friday, changing hues from bright white to blood dark red as the sun’s rays are reflected through the earth’s atmosphere.

The moon will be fully eclipsed for one hour, 42 minutes and 57 seconds. It is almost the longest lunar eclipse theoretically possible, and will be the longest eclipse between 2001 to 2100.

When to watch

The sun, moon and earth will begin to align at 9pm in Dubai. The partial eclipse will begin at 10.24pm. The earth will fully eclipse the sun from 11.30pm until 1.13am. It will all be over by 3.29am.

Can we see it in the UAE?

Yes, the eclipse will be visible in East Africa, the Middle East, the Indian Subcontinent and most of Central Asia. In Japan, the moon will be setting as the eclipse begins. North America, apart from a sliver of the Canadian province of Newfoundland, will miss the entire event.

Where can I watch it in Dubai?

Dubai Astronomy Group are offering a observation and talk at Al Thuraya Astronomy Centre in Mushrif Park. Registration is Dh200 per adult and Dh120 per child and includes dinner, a talk and lessons on how to photograph the rare event with a mobile phone. It runs from 9pm until 3am.

Members of the Dubai Astronomy Group will perform a special set of Islamic prayers during the eclipse. “The purpose of the prayer is simple, to worship God,” said Hasan Al Hariri, the chief executive of Dubai Astronomy Group.

Nakheel will sponsor a free event for stargazers in Jumeirah Village Circle in Dubai from 9.30pm until 1.30am where stargazers can relax on beanbags and enjoy movie screenings, bouncy castles and free refreshments in 2nd December Park, District 14.

Where I watch in the eclipse Abu Dhabi?

The International Astronomical Center will organise an event on the Abu Dhabi Corniche, opposite Adnoc, at 8pm, which will include a talk on eclipses and visible planets that can be seen at this time of year.

Al Sadeem observatory in Al Wathba is holding an open house and live-streaming the eclipse on its YouTube channel. Sadeem was opened by Emirati amateur astronomer Thabet Al Qaissieh in 2016.

“Everyone is welcome and beginners are even more welcome,” said Mr Al Qaissieh, who said these events prove you don’t need lots of expensive equipment to participate.

“It’s important that people know that these can be seen with the naked eye,” he said. “It’s also important to let people know that places like Sadeem are operating in the UAE and participating in these types of astronomical events.”

Al Sadeem observatory will be live streaming the eclipse from 9.14pm on Friday evening.

Anywhere else?

The UAE Space Agency will host viewings at a number of observation points, including the International Astronomical Centre in Abu Dhabi, Emirates Mobile Observatory and Sharjah Center for Astromony and Space Sciences.

Otherwise, simply head outside the city for better viewing.

Do I need special glasses?

No. Unlike solar eclipses, lunar eclipses can be watched with the naked eye.

Why does the moon turn red?

During an eclipse, light passes through the earth’s atmosphere. Longer blue and violet wavelengths are scattered more than shorter red, orange and yellow wavelengths. More of these shorter wavelengths reach the moon and are reflected back to earth, giving the appearance of a blood red moon.

Why are eclipses rare?

A lunar eclipse typically happens no more than three times in any given location a year when the earth, sun and moon align and the moon falls in the shadow of the earth. The moon must be full for an eclipse to happen and at the right angle for this to occur.

On July 27, the moon is at its farthest from Earth and will appear a little smaller in the sky. This is known as a Micro Moon. A Super Moon is when the satellite is at its closest.

Is anything else happening that night?

As a matter of fact, yes. In an unrelated event, Mars will be the closest it has been to our planet since 2003. Mars will not look so different to the naked eye but it is in fact a mere 57.6 million away tomorrow night, making it the perfect time for people to glimpse the red planet through the telescope.

What would the eclipse look like from the moon?

If you were to watch the eclipse on the moon, the earth would appear to be surrounded by a ring of fire.

I missed it. Now what?

The next lunar eclipse will be on January 21, 2019, but it will be only partially visible from the UAE.