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Looking for a quiet spot to study the stars or the equipment necessary to monitor the night skies with the kids? Here’s a list of UAE-based areas for stargazing.
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Al Thuraya Astronomy Centre: At this hub, dedicated to all things space, you’ll find one of the largest telescopes in the region. And a planetarium, where the kids can learn all about the various constellations dotting the sky. There are also space-themed movies and documentaries on site for those interested. Check out the Dubai Astronomy Group, who often will hold special tours to impart for enthusiasts.
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Rub Al Khali Desert: The Empty Quarter has seemingly endless carpets of sand – and at dusk, a sparkling dome. The 583,000-square-kilometre desert that touches Saudi Arabia, Oman and Yemen is a good spot to go when you want to teach the kids about constellations. Be careful though, warn experts, for the dunes may cause your car to get stuck.
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Sharjah Centre for Astronomy and Space Sciences: This center, set up in 2015, is home to three observatories that glimpse into the movement of stars, planets and solar events. There’s a planetarium, meteorite collection and various exhibits. Timings: Monday to Thursday 9am to 3pm; Thursday: 4pm to 8pm
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Al Quaa Milky Way spot: The darker the spot, the better the view – at least where the stars are concerned. Use Google Maps to get to this spot, an hour and a half from Abu Dhabi, and you’ll find yourself under a blanket of stars.
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Hatta: This Dubai enclave has many draws, from kayaking to pearling to horse riding. And come evening, it’s also home to some lovely secluded areas from where you can see bright lights in the sky.
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Al Qudra: Small green areas with lakes on site, located near Dubai’s Bab Al Shams resort, this is a good place for picnics, cycling, walks and of course stargazing.
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Mleiha Archaeological Centre in Sharjah: At this historical site turned exhibition centre, families can opt for a view of the stars. Here you’ll not only learn all about the emirates and what came before, you will also catch sight of Mars, Jupiter and the moon.