Lunar eclipse turns family affair in Oman
August 7, 2017 | 11:08 PM
by Gautam Viswanathan / [email protected]
Photo - Shabin E

Muscat: Residents of Oman have plenty of reasons to remember Monday night's lunar eclipse with fondness.

While many took to high ground in the Sultanate to experience the wondrous phenomena of the universe first-hand, others used the opportunity to teach their children about what lay beyond our planet.

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Hassan Ali Al Lawati had come to the Oman Astronomical Society with his four year old daughter.

"She may not realise it now, but this will surely have a subconscious impact on her in the future," he told Times of Oman. "This is the third such event organised by the society that I've taken her to. One was in Jabal Shams and the other was here and she really seemed to like it.

"This is the age for children to learn," he added. "There is a lot more outside our planet and we need to learn about these things."

The astronomical society of Oman had set up four telescopes for people to observe the moon up close, in addition to other lenses that were focused on the movements of Jupiter and Saturn.

On a clear night with nary a cloud in the sky, conditions were perfect for stargazers to observe the lunar eclipse.

Residents across the Sultanate were able to experience the partial eclipse first hand, with up to 22 per cent of the moon being covered by shadow at its peak.

The eclipse began at 7:50 pm, with shadows beginning to form on the moon's surface at 9:20 pm. It peaked at around 10:20 pm, before receding at 11:15 pm, and ending at 12:50 in the wee hours of the morning.

"Perhaps the highlight of this astronomical event is the possibility of seeing it without the need for any astronomical equipment such as telescopes or binoculars, where the eclipse is evident in the sky," said Ibrahim Al Mahrouqi of the Oman Astronomical Society.

"This rare event, which adorns the skies of the Sultanate, is also a great event for the influx of many photographers and those interested in documenting this astronomical event and the capture of various images of the aesthetic appearance of moonlight in the stage of its partial eclipse of various angles and locations where the moon appears," he added.

Yusuf Al Mahrabi and his wife brought their three young children to observe the eclipse.

"The first time they saw the moon was at the event in Jabal Shams, and they have been fascinated by this ever since," he explained. "My children love learning about the moon and the planet Mercury.

"Maybe it was because it was clear and we were in the mountains, but they had never seen the moon like that before," added Al Mahrabi. "It is good that they like to experience these things at such a young age."

Despite Tuesday being a work day, Bhavin Vala had also brought his young family to experience the eclipse.

"I have been studying planetary movements since I was a student, and was always curious about there being so much in this universe apart from just us," he said.

"This is a wonderful thing to experience and we don't get these opportunities often so I want my children to appreciate and learn from this when they are young so it will stay with them."

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