Hasan Al Hariri, CE of Dubai Astronomy Group showing meteorites which visitors can touch at Al Thuraya Center. Image Credit: Gulf News archives


Dubai Astronomy Group will mark the World Space Week with the soft launch of the much-awaited Al Thuraya Astronomy Centre on October 4, a top official said.

Hasan Al Hariri, chief executive of the Dubai Astronomy Group, told XPRESS on Monday that the centre, located inside Mushrif Park, will be the hub of astronomical action and a destination for curious minds as it hosts a series of events, including star gazing parties, astro sports, zero gravity experiences and astrophotography.

“This year’s World Space Week will be very special to us and we thank Dubai Municipality without whose support we could not have set up this centre,” he said.

“I urge the young and old alike to come and explore the marvels of space. Our future lies in space,” he added.

Al Hariri said the centre has planned an action-filled calendar for World Space Week. “On Day 1 (October 4) we will be focusing on Cassini, NASA’s spacecraft that has made amazing discoveries on Saturn. Besides a documentary, talks and Q&A sessions, we will also observe the planet. We will have two session between 7pm and 11pm, each lasting one and a half hours.”

While entry for Dubai Astronomy Group members will be free, non-members will be charged a nominal Dh50.

Al Hariri said the theme for Day 2 will be the Google Lunar XPRIZE or Moon 2.0, an inducement prize space competition organised by XPRIZE and sponsored by Google. “A special film by Google will be aired at the planetarium and we will observe the moon with a telescope as well. The programme will again be held between 7pm and 11pm,” he added.

The events on Friday, Day 3, will begin at 5pm itself. “WE will be showing the film Interstellar and raising questions about whether this is the stuff of fiction or reality. There will be two shows from 5pm to 8pm and 8pm to 11pm.”

As for the remaining events of the week which will be from 7pm and 11pm, he said Day 4 will host a special talk on space, giving audiences an opportunity to ask questions and seek clarifications on any space related issue. “They can ask us anything from aliens to black holes. We will also have a session to observe the stars and planets.”

“On Day 5, we will show a film on living in space and talk at length on the International Space Station and its fantastic discoveries. The question of whether the station can be seen with our naked eye will also be addressed. There will be two sessions over three hours, “ said Al Hariri.

While Day 6 will be devoted to the subject of colonising Mars, Day 7 will dwell on the Hubble space telescope and its wonders. Both the days will include Q&A sessions with telescopic activity.