Thousands here gather for century's longest lunar eclipse

Stargazers at a viewing event on the rooftop of the Singapore Maritime Gallery at Marina South Pier on Friday night. The Moon seen over Sri Mariamman Temple in South Bridge Road, minutes before the beginning of a total lunar eclipse at 3.30am yesterd
The Moon seen over Sri Mariamman Temple in South Bridge Road, minutes before the beginning of a total lunar eclipse at 3.30am yesterday. As the Moon entered the darkest part of Earth's shadow, its surface turned a coppery red.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
Stargazers at a viewing event on the rooftop of the Singapore Maritime Gallery at Marina South Pier on Friday night. The Moon seen over Sri Mariamman Temple in South Bridge Road, minutes before the beginning of a total lunar eclipse at 3.30am yesterd
Stargazers at a viewing event on the rooftop of the Singapore Maritime Gallery at Marina South Pier on Friday night. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
Stargazers at a viewing event on the rooftop of the Singapore Maritime Gallery at Marina South Pier on Friday night. The Moon seen over Sri Mariamman Temple in South Bridge Road, minutes before the beginning of a total lunar eclipse at 3.30am yesterd
The eclipse could also be seen in Hong Kong (above), Munich and Athens. Lasting one hour and 43 minutes, it was the longest total lunar eclipse of the century and occurred together with the Mars opposition. PHOTOS: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
The eclipse could also be seen in (from left) Hong Kong, Munich and Athens. Lasting one hour and 43 minutes, it was the longest total lunar eclipse of the century and occurred together with the Mars opposition.
The eclipse could also be seen in Hong Kong, Munich (above) and Athens. Lasting one hour and 43 minutes, it was the longest total lunar eclipse of the century and occurred together with the Mars opposition. PHOTOS: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Thousands of stargazers stayed up until the early hours yesterday to watch the 21st century's longest total lunar eclipse.

In an event organised by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) and local astronomy group SingAstro, the public was invited to watch the eclipse at Marina South Pier's roof garden.

SingAstro member Chin Zong Yang, 26, said: "Tonight's lunar eclipse will be special because it is the longest of the century - lasting one hour and 43 minutes - in addition to the Mars opposition."

The Mars opposition occurs when the Sun, Earth and Mars align in a straight line. Mars, at that point of its orbit, is the closest to our planet, at 57 million kilometres from Earth.

"For the two events to coincide on the same day, I feel very lucky and excited to facilitate the viewing of this rare event," Mr Chin added.

The MPA estimated that 2,000 people, including students, astronomy enthusiasts and families, visited the pier between 7pm on Friday and 6am yesterday.

Stargazers at a viewing event on the rooftop of the Singapore Maritime Gallery at Marina South Pier on Friday night. The Moon seen over Sri Mariamman Temple in South Bridge Road, minutes before the beginning of a total lunar eclipse at 3.30am yesterd
The eclipse could also be seen in Hong Kong, Munich and Athens (above). Lasting one hour and 43 minutes, it was the longest total lunar eclipse of the century and occurred together with the Mars opposition. PHOTOS: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

About 25 telescopes were on the pier's roof, and queues formed to see the Moon, Mars and other planets, including Venus, Jupiter, Saturn and even Neptune.

Meanwhile, an event organised by students of National Junior College saw more than 320 students, family and staff from 45 schools gather to observe the night sky.

An overnight camp organised by the Lifelong Learning Institute and Science Centre Singapore also saw more than 130 parents and children view the eclipse with telescopes made out of materials like magnifying glasses and toilet rolls.

Watching his first eclipse was 12-year-old Ryan Wu. "I wanted to see the lunar eclipse that occurred in January but couldn't because I had school the next day," he said.

At 3.30am, a "blood moon" appeared. As it entered the darkest part of Earth's shadow, its rocky surface turned an eerie coppery red.

Ms Tam Shu Xuan, 36, an astronomy buff, said: "I'm amazed to realise I have that much patience when it comes to looking at the night sky. Doing so really allows me to relax and I'm never bored."

The fullest eclipse was visible from Europe, Russia, Africa, the Middle East, and much of Asia and Australia.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 29, 2018, with the headline 'Thousands here gather for century's longest lunar eclipse'. Print Edition | Subscribe