Abu Dhabi, Dubai: An Abu Dhabi-based astronomy centre is looking to capitalise on the growing awareness and popularity of astronomy in the country — much of it being driven by the UAE’s ambitious space programmes. It is organising monthlong workshops on the subject first in Dubai and then in Abu Dhabi.

The initiative is being run by the International Astronomy Centre (IAC), with the first workshop on Sunday in Dubai, taking place at the Log In Training Centre. Once the workshops are completed in Dubai, the programme will then move to Abu Dhabi starting October 15 from the centre itself.

“The main objective of introducing these workshops is to spread the knowledge of science and astronomy — especially with Hope 2021 happening in a few years when the UAE sends its probe to Mars,” said Samir Hakawati, executive director at the IAC.

“We now live in a very modernised age and much of it is directly as well as indirectly linked to research on space programmes that aspire to understand our universe, and so we believe that this is an important subject to get young people involved with,” he added.

Hakawati explained that the workshops would run three days a week, giving students both theoretical and practical lessons.

“We have planned the workshops for two-hour daily sessions from Tuesday to Thursday over four weeks. The classes are divided into both theoretical and practical teaching, as we felt that it would be much more conducive to not just explain things to the students but to also have them get a hands-on approach as well,” he said.

“From the practical side of things, we will be taking the students out for space observations using high-tech telescopes to view other planets like Jupiter, Saturn, and even other celestial bodies like the sun and moon,” he added.

Hakawati said that theoretical classes would cover a range of subjects related to space, giving students a broad understanding of the subject.

“Theory classes will start from a beginner’s level, gradually moving up with each class. During these theory classes, we want to give the students a general and specific understanding on a number of topics related to space,” he said.

“The subjects include the formation of the universe and its content, other galaxies in the universe, and an understanding of our solar system,” he added.

“The great thing about this workshop is that the students get to see what we re teaching to them, thanks to our space observations,” Hakawati said.

For more information on astronomy or International Astronomy Centre’s activities, visit www.icoproject.org.