Partial solar eclipse wows UAE sky gazers

Moon covered nearly half of the Sun’s surface during peak of celestial event

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A partial solar eclipse appeared in the UAE on Tuesday, darkening early skies and captivating crowds of onlookers.

The Moon covered more than half of the Sun’s surface when the eclipse was at its peak at about 3.51pm.

The next solar eclipse in the Emirates will not be visible until 2027.

Such celestial events take place when the Sun, Moon and Earth are aligned either partially or completely.

The Moon blocks light from the Sun and casts a shadow on Earth, with the eclipse visible to anyone within this shadow, making it appear as if the Moon has taken a bite out of the Sun.

Astronomy centres across the country held viewing events for the public.

About 100 people visited the Al Thuraya Astronomy Centre in Mushrif Park to see the partial eclipse.

People gather at the Al Thuraya Astronomy Centre in Mushrif Park to watch the partial solar eclipse. Antonie Robertson / The National

Rand Rashdan, a resident of Dubai, brought her son Raed, 6, to the astronomy centre for the viewing.

“He’s super interested in space and really likes reading about astronomy,” she said.

“We didn’t want to miss today’s event because we know that the solar eclipse won’t be visible here until 2027.”

Loren Boulton was another Dubai resident who came to see the celestial event with her friend Rachel Hennessey.

They attend gatherings at the centre regularly and enjoy learning about other planets.

“It’s nice to be part of it,” said Ms Boulton. “We’ve been quite keen on learning more about space because there’s just so much happening in the UAE.”

Ms Hennessey said “people are often so busy that they don’t look at the skies”.

Visitors at the astronomy centre had to pay to attend the gathering and protective eyewear was included in the ticket price.

It is necessary to wear special glasses when looking directly at the eclipse, as it can cause retinal damage.

The eyewear blocks all ultraviolet rays, while sunglasses — even if they are polarised and have ultraviolet protection — will not offer the same protection.

Portia Collins, 11, a pupil in Dubai, said the eclipse was “super cool”.

“You don’t get to see this every day,” said Portia, who aspires to be an astrophysicist.

“It’s so cool that the Moon overlaps with the Sun.”

Noje Jamati, another Dubai resident, said that observing the event with telescopes enhanced the viewing experience.

“You can see the spots on the Sun when using the telescope and you can see it more clearly. That’s really cool,” she said.

There are only a few remaining observable celestial events this year.

Next month, the Leonid meteor shower will take place when the Moon’s illumination will be at 44 per cent.

The Geminid meteor shower will be visible in December, with 72 per cent Moon illumination expected.

Updated: October 25, 2022, 5:11 PM
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