Abu Dhabi: Since its opening in Abu Dhabi last summer, the country’s first space observatory has proven to be a popular destination among astronomy enthusiasts in the country, having attracted hundreds of visitors and establishing itself as a hub for astronomy.
Located in Al Wathba area, Al Sadeem Observatory was opened in June last year thanks to the financial support of an Emirati businessman who funded the project that was initiated by an Abu Dhabi-based astronomy group.
“The space observatory is very popular; we are getting a lot of visitors coming in every week and since our opening, we have had over 1,000 visitors,” said Andy Palado, one of the co-founders of Al Sadeem Astronomy.
“People from all nationalities including Emiratis, Indians, Europeans, and Americans are coming in. Some of the visitors are tourists who have heard about the space observatory and put it on their itinerary,” he added.
Palado said the group was happy with its progress and was looking to raise more awareness on astronomy in the UAE.
“The popularity of astronomy is definitely going up and the main goal is to keep raising awareness about the subject and the observatory. People who have visited so far are very happy with their experience. For many, it was the first time they had the opportunity to look at planets and deep sky objects through advanced telescopes.
“We are also in contact with the Ministry of Education to get permission for schools to visit the observatory. A lot of schools, both private and public, have shown an interest in having field trips for their students to the space observatory, and we feel this will be a good educational opportunity for students,” he added.
Palado added that the observatory was also going to start hosting two monthly lectures by astronomy experts.
“We have a resident astronomy expert who will give some of the lectures, and for the other talks, we are going to invite university professors. The lectures will take place twice a month, and will focus on astronomy and provide the latest information on space discoveries,” he said.
Palado also spoke of the importance of having such an observatory in the UAE, noting the historical role played by the Arabs in the field of astronomy.
“It is good for an Arab country to have such a space observatory. If you look at the history of the Arabs, they have left a strong legacy in astronomy. We are trying to revive this legacy.”
Divulging some of the technical aspects of the observatory, Palado said the space observatory took around six months to build, and has a 360-degree rotating dome.
“It took around six months to build the space observatory, this included getting the right design, materials, and the construction itself. The dome of the two-storey observatory is made from fibreglass, while the rest of the observatory is built with concrete.
“Inside the observatory, there are several telescopes, including the main 16-inch mounted telescope.”
For enquiries and bookings, visit the observatory’s main website: http://www.abudhabiastronomy.com