The dazzling celestial events set to light up UAE skies in 2024

A lunar eclipse and numerous meteor showers are among astronomical highlights of the coming year

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UAE star gazers are being urged to keep their eyes on the skies in 2024, with a series of stunning celestial events to look forward to.

Spectacular meteor showers, a supermoon and a lunar eclipse will all be in the sights of enthusiasts in the year ahead.

A growing number of people in the Emirates have a passion for astronomy, with many attending viewing events held by local organisations.

Sheeraz Awan, general manager of the Dubai Astronomy Group, told The National that hundreds of people show up to their observation events, as compared to only 20 to 30 people in 2014.

"The number of people who have been participating with us has grown significantly," he said.

"So many people get in touch with us about the meteor showers and we also let them know of all the multiple locations that they can go for observation."

About 800 people attended a comet viewing event that the astronomy group held earlier this year.

With plenty astronomical events visible in the UAE's skies this year, The National takes a look at some of the top ones.

Quadrantids meteor shower

This celestial event spans both 2023 and 2024, taking place from December 26 to January 16 – but is due to peak on January 3 and 4.

Up to 200 meteors an hour streak across the skies when the shower is at its high point. Visibility depends on if weather conditions are favourable.

Quadrantids are also known for their bright fireball meteors – larger explosions of light and colour that persist for longer.

March Equinox

An equinox is when the day and night are the same lengths all over the world.

The Sun will shine directly on the equator and there will be nearly equal amounts of day and night globally.

This equinox is set to take place on March 20 and 21.

The year's second equinox is on September 22.

Lyrids meteor shower

These are the oldest recorded showers and are at their peak from April 22 to 23.

The shower has been observed for 2,700 years, with Chinese astronomers first recording the phenomenon in 687 BC.

About 100 meteors per hour can be observed if weather conditions are suitable.

Meanwhile, the Eta Aquarids meteor shower – which is associated with Halley's Comet – takes place on May 6 and 7 and may be visible from the UAE.

Supermoon, Buck Moon

This will be the first supermoon of the year and will take place on July 21.

It is a phenomenon when the Moon is closer than usual to the Earth and appears larger.

It is called a Buck Moon to signify the new antlers that emerge on a deer buck’s forehead around this time.

Perseids meteor shower

The Perseids meteor shower take place from July 14 to September 1 and are at their peak from August 12 to 13.

If skies are clear, these are one of the best meteor showers to observe, with about 50 to 100 meteors per hour that shoot across.

They move fast and are also known to produce fireballs.

Sturgeon Moon

This will be a full moon that will appear in the UAE’s skies on August 19.

It is called Sturgeon Moon because of the abundance of fish in the Great Lakes during this month month hundreds of years ago.

Saturn at opposition

On September 8, the planet Saturn will be "in opposition".

At this time, Earth is between the Sun and Saturn. From Earth, Saturn is on the "opposite" side of the sky to the Sun.

The gas giant appear closer and brighter from Earth, giving sky gazers a unique opportunity to observe the stunning planet and its rings.

Lunar eclipse and Harvest Moon

A rare celestial event will take place on September 18, which includes a Harvest Moon and a penumbral lunar eclipse.

The Harvest Moon is the full moon nearest the autumnal equinox.

But it might not be too visible because of a penumbral lunar eclipse, which is when only the outer shadow of the Earth falls on the Moon.

An annular solar eclipse will take place two weeks later in parts of South America, but will not be visible in the UAE.

Orionids, Leonids and Geminids meteor showers

The last three months of the year will include stunning meteor showers, with possibility of high visibility as the weather is usually favourable in the UAE from October to December.

The Orionids meteor shower will peak from October 21 and 22.

The Leonids meteor shower will be visible on November 18.

And the Geminids peak from December 13 and 14. These are set to be the most visible of the year in the Emirates, with about 120 meteors an hour shooting across the sky.

Updated: December 22, 2023, 7:35 AM