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06 December 2023

Total Lunar Eclipse on January 20–21

By Wam

On the night between Sunday 20 and Monday 21 January, a good fraction of the world’s population will be able to look up see our bright Moon slowly turn dark orange.

The phenomenon known as a total lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth passes directly between the Moon and the Sun, hiding the light that illuminates the surface of our satellite, the European Space Agency (ESA) aid in a website report.

The total phase of this lunar eclipse is not visible in UAE, but it can be observed as a penumbral lunar eclipse in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. A penumbral lunar eclipse can be a bit hard to see as the shadowed part is only a little bit fainter than the rest of the Moon As the Moon passes through the shadow of Earth it appears in orange and red hues. This is because a small portion of sunlight is refracted by the Earth's atmosphere and mostly red light reaches the Moon. It is also why the total lunar eclipse is often called a ‘blood moon’.

Those living in Europe (or in western Africa) and wishing to watch the spectacle on Monday, it is recommended to get up early and allow plenty of time. The whole lunar eclipse will last about five hours, and the total eclipse about one hour.

The total lunar eclipse will be easily visible for anyone living in North America or South America, weather permitting. But parts of Europe, Africa, and Asia will be able to see some of the event, too. For those outside of the Americas, the eclipse will coincide with Moon rise and Moon set. That means it may be hard to see, because the Moon will be too low in the sky or the pesky Sun will make things too bright. Check out how your location fares in the map below.

It's the only total lunar eclipse of the year. There’s a partial lunar eclipse in July, which means the Moon won’t be fully inside Earth’s shadow. But plenty of it will be covered. That one will be easily seen from Africa, Europe, and parts of Asia.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission, the first crewed landing on the Moon. In collaboration with international partners, ESA is preparing to go forward to the Moon on several missions to be developed over the next few years.

ESA is teaming up with international partners to return humans to Earth’s natural satellite. After more than four decades, the Moon is again in the spotlight of space agencies worldwide as a destination for both robotic missions and human explorers.