There are very few activities that people of different interests share. It’s difficult to find something that couples, singles, teenagers, young people, adults, and elderly would all enjoy. But when it comes to stargazing, it’s pretty difficult to find someone who doesn’t enjoy it. Cairenes have the chance to enjoy a higher level of stargazing with a total lunar eclipse occurring this Friday.
For those of you who don’t know, a total lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth completely blocks direct sunlight from reaching the moon. Of course, you all know that the moon reflects the light rays coming from the sun, but when the Earth falls within that path, the only light that reaches the moon is the one refracted from around the Earth. This refraction filters out light from the blue end of the spectrum, turning the moon a reddish/brown colour, sometimes called blood moon, and it looks absolutely awesome.
While a total lunar eclipse is not a once in a lifetime event, it is quite a rare occurrence. Happening only on the night of a full moon, and luckily, this beautiful natural phenomenon can be viewed right here in Cairo.
So where can you get a glimpse of that? Well, you probably didn’t know this, but there’s a place in the heart of Helwan – not so far from central Cairo – where you can see the total lunar eclipse in all its glory. The place is called the National Research Institute of Astronomy and Geophysics (NRIAG), or the Helwan Observatory. This Friday, the Helwan Observatory is opening its doors to specialised professionals and interested visitors from everywhere in Cairo for free, to get the best view of the natural phenomenon. You can even bring your kids with you, if you can ensure that they abide by the scientific atmosphere of the place and the event.
The lunar eclipse will begin at around 7:15 pm, but it won’t be visible to the naked eye until 8:24 pm, and it will turn into a total lunar eclipse starting from 9:30 pm until 11:45 pm, that’s when it returns to being a partial lunar eclipse to remain visible to the naked eye until 12:19 am. Incidentally, this will also be the longest total lunar eclipse in the 21st century.
NRIAG would like to assure all viewers that there is absolutely no risk in looking at the moon at the time of the lunar eclipse. However, if you do stare at it for a long time, you may experience slight blurring of vision which will go away after a few minutes.
Don’t miss this amazing sight on Friday, Cairenes. Make a night of it and enjoy it at the Helwan Observatory, or at any other place of your choice.