UAE: 'Flower' supermoon tonight, how to watch it

Dubai - The first lunar eclipse of the year is special as the moon is going to be closest to the Earth's surface

By Nandini Sircar

Published: Sat 22 May 2021, 6:02 PM

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

Mark your calendars for the next big lunar event that will happen on Wednesday, May 26 when the UAE skies will be adorned with a supermoon that is perhaps the largest-looking one of the year.

This supermoon is the closest full moon of the year and may look unusually large to people in some countries, while people in other parts of the world will see a ‘blood moon’ due to the reddish hue from the sunlight filtering through the Earth's atmosphere.

May’s full moon is also known as the Flower Moon, named for the wildflowers blooming in the Northern Hemisphere. It is one of only two supermoons in 2021, which take place when the moon is at or near its closest point to Earth.

Sarath Raj, Programme Leader for Aerospace Engineering, Project Director of the Amity Dubai Satellite Ground Station, said, “The first lunar eclipse of this year is very special as the moon is going to be very close to the Earth’s surface, nearly 357,500 km away from the surface. The flower moon would be 14 per cent larger in size and about 30 per cent brighter. The moon will be at its peak brightness at 3:14 pm GST. It will last for 15 minutes but stargazers in the Arab World can’t witness this remarkable event as the moon is below the horizon at this time.”

Only the US, Australia, South America and eastern Asia will experience the total lunar eclipse.

He adds, “The penumbral eclipse would begin at 12:47 pm local time and it will end at 17:49 pm local time. We can witness the eclipse through online streaming links. Space enthusiasts can tune into live-streaming apps and websites like the virtual telescope, Perth observatory, starry nights, Sonora astronomical society, slooh pages and more, to witness the super flower moon.”

On May 26, over several hours, the Moon will pass through Earth’s shadow, causing it to darken and usually become reddish.

The red colour comes from sunlight filtering through Earth’s atmosphere – a ring of light created by all the sunrises and sunsets happening around our planet at that time.

Hasan Al Hariri -CEO, Dubai Astronomy Group and Director Al Thuraya Astronomy Center, says, “It will not be visible from all regions. So, the Moon will be eclipsed by the shadow of the Earth and it will be completely dark and it will seem to have a reddish hue. Unfortunately, this event will not be visible in the Middle East and this region due to the Saros cycle which takes approximately 18 years to come back to the same location.

"So, the next full eclipse that will be visible from the UAE will be on 7 September, 2025 and similarly, at least 90 per cent of the solar eclipse will be visible on 20 March, 2034. There will be some partial eclipses from the moon and the sun which will be visible in between these dates. There are lots of speculations and superstitions attached to the eclipses that people believe in but none of it is true”

The next lunar eclipse will likely occur on November 19, 2021, which will be visible in North and South America, Australia and parts of Europe and Asia.

Unfortunately, it will not be able to be witnessed in most parts of the Arab World as this one will also be below the horizon belt. The predicted timing of the eclipse is between 10:00 am local time to 16:00 pm local time.

Meanwhile, excited children in the UAE, who are avid space gazers are also looking forward to watching the event on different live streaming channels.

Nine-year-old Mir Faraz said, “I am super excited for it and what’s got me intrigued is the exotic name which is the super flower blood Moon. The fact that it’s happening after two years makes it interesting. Since we might not get a complete view of this event in the UAE I would watch it on one of the sites like time and or virtual and then of course there is the trusted NASA telecast but I will make sure that I watch the live telecast even though I cannot watch it directly in the sky, I will have the satisfaction to see it as it's happening.”

Ramila Koduri, 13, said, “On April 27, a pink supermoon appeared in the UAE skies. I never miss such rare celestial events. If I can see something in-person I am ready with my binoculars or go to Dubai astronomy Centre’s event venue, that’s better and more enchanting but if the event is taking place in some other country, I make sure to log onto YouTube channels or any space agency’s website. But giving it a miss is not an option for me ever.”


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