People in other parts of the world will experience the total lunar eclipse, featuring a ‘blood moon’. — AP file photo
People in other parts of the world will experience the total lunar eclipse, featuring a ‘blood moon’. — AP file photo

UAE: Don't miss 'biggest' supermoon tonight at 7.08pm

Dubai - Skywatchers in the UAE may not be able to see the blood moon but, still, an unusually large moon will shine on the country tonight.

By Nandini Sircar

Published: Wed 26 May 2021, 1:41 PM

Last updated: Wed 26 May 2021, 5:56 PM

Don’t forget to set your alarm for 7.08pm tonight: The exact time when this year’s biggest and brightest supermoon will rise and shine on the UAE.

Stargazers in the country will be able to spot an unusually large moon in the sky. People in other parts of the world, however, will experience the total lunar eclipse, featuring a ‘blood moon’ that is named so because of the reddish hue from the sunlight filtering through the Earth’s atmosphere.

May’s supermoon appears big and bright in the sky because of its closeness to Earth, passing within just 357,500km of our planet. This month’s full moon is also known as the Flower Moon, named after the wildflowers blooming in the northern hemisphere.

This full moon is the second of three supermoons in 2021, with the last one taking place on June 24.

“The super flower moon would be 14 per cent larger in size and about 30 per cent brighter. People who are interested in getting a closer look can view it through binoculars or telescopes. A professional camera with a long distance lens will also do the trick," explained Sarath Raj, project director of the Amity University Dubai Satellite Ground Station and programme leader of aerospace engineering at Amity University Dubai.

He added: “The surface contrast on the moon is so low during an eclipse that observing the Moon through a telescope will not be as effective. To see surface details (e.g. craters, mountains), a telescope is recommended and viewers who just want to see the dimming effect of a lunar eclipse can use binoculars.”

Explaining why there are larger or smaller full moons throughout the year, Hasan Al Hariri, CEO of Dubai Astronomy Group and director Al Thuraya Astronomy Centre, said: “As the moon rotates around Earth in an elliptical orbit, it sometimes goes far and it sometimes comes close. This time, it will be close and will therefore look brighter. It can be 10 to 14 per cent bigger. This will not be noticeable to ordinary people. You need to study this to understand the change in the size of the moon. But it will be exciting to learn about this moon and develop a greater understanding about it. But for the people who will be able to witness the eclipse, obviously, it’ll be more fascinating for them today.”

The penumbral eclipse began earlier today at 12.47pm local time, and it would end at 5.49pm. In the UAE, citizens and residents can witness the eclipse through online streaming links.

It is visible only in south/east Asia, Australia, much of North America, South America, Pacific, Atlantic, Indian Ocean, Antarctica region.

Space enthusiasts can tune into live-streaming options like the Virtual Telescope Project, Perth Observatory, Starry Nights, Sanora Astronomical Society and Slooh pages to see the spectacle.

Hariri added: “This eclipse will not be visible in the UAE and the Middle East but will be visible for people on the side of the Pacific Ocean and certain other regions. We will be observing the events of the supermoon at the Al Thuraya Astronomy Center and we invite people to come over and observe with us. It will be exciting for all. We will also be organising a few talks on this phenomenon.”

Space enthusiasts who will be viewing the supermoon today shared a trivia explaining how the moon got the superlative adjective.

Shaneer N Siddiqui, an active member of the Dubai Astronomy group, said: “Apparently, the supermoon is not an official astronomical term. Instead it was first coined by an astrologer, Richard Nolle, in 1979. He defined it as ‘a New or a Full Moon that occurs when the full moon or new moon has to come within 90 per cent of its closest approach to Earth, to be dubbed a supermoon. It is not clear why he chose the 90 per cent cut off in his definition.”

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