The longest "blood moon" eclipse this century is now being observed by astronomers and sky gazers in the UAE and across the globe, with the Emirates being among the best places in the world to watch the celestial spectacle, where the moon is eclipsed by the earth’s shadow.
The whole event started from around 10.00 p.m. Friday and will last to around 3.00 a.m. Saturday in the UAE.
The thrilling spectacle coincided with Mars' closest approach in 15 years today to offer sky watchers a stunning astronomical double bill.
Viewers needed no protective eye gear to observe the spectacle -- unlike when watching solar eclipse. On the same night and over the coming days, Mars will be at its closest point to Earth since 2003.
Marking the occasion, a series of functions has been held across the country, including the capital Abu Dhabi, that featured lectures on eclipses and visible planets that can be seen at this time of year.
Speaking to the Emirates News Agency (WAM) while attending a seminar organised by the International Astronomical Centre on the Abu Dhabi Corniche to mark the event, Dr. Mohammed Al Ahbabi, Director-General of UAE Space Agency, said that the Agency, by participating in such events, seeks to promote public awareness of such astronomical phenomena.
"Lunar eclipse is an opportunity to stimulate the passion and curiosity for such rare events," he said.
"The UAE Space Agency is sponsoring a series of observation points at a number of astronomy centres throughout the UAE, to provide residents with the opportunity to witness the longest total lunar eclipse of the century. The sponsorship of such events comes within the framework of our strategic objective to raise awareness of our national space sector, and the UAE’s abundance of advanced astronomy centres and their world-class capabilities. This global phenomenon is an important opportunity for us to shed light on our dynamic national space sector."
UAE residents have been invited to visit the astronomy centres to watch this unique astronomical phenomenon. Viewing locations include the International Astronomical Centre, based in Abu Dhabi, Emirates Mobile Observatory, Al Sadeem Astronomy, Sharjah Centre for Astronomy and Space Sciences and the Dubai Astronomy Group.