You don’t have to be a professional stargazer to appreciate this weekend's astronomical event Image Credit: Reuters

Abu Dhabi: Stargazers in the UAE will have the chance to watch this year’s final meteor shower when it peaks on the nights of December 22-23 with up to 10 meteors per hour expected to streak across the night sky.

Radiating from the Ursid Constellation — after which it is named — the Ursid meteor shower is a result of debris entering the earth’s atmosphere from Comet Tuttle. While not as prolific as this month’s earlier Geminid meteor shower, which featured as many as 120-160 meteors per hour, the Ursid shower still promises sky gazers an entertaining space show to close out the year.

“As a space enthusiast and astronomer I get a big thrill from meteor showers, they’re amazing to watch when you’re in the middle of the desert and you see these fireballs moving across the sky in a flash of a second,” said Andy Palado, one of the co-founders of Al Sadeem Astronomy, with the group having its very own space observatory — the first in Abu Dhabi — to watch the show from.

“The space observatory will be witnessing the event from the evening of December 22 all the way into the early hours of December 23, so basically from 10pm to 3am. We will be taking pictures from our telescope feed as well as videos that we will post on our social media accounts,” he added.

“There will be around 10 meteors per hour, they will vary in their brightness with some being more dim than others. I’ll be there with the telescope and our cameras to make sure we capture them all,” Palado explained.

“The space observatory has become a hub for astronomy, we’re always watching and recording space events, whether they are meteor showers, eclipses, or any other type of celestial activities,” he said.

Palado said that space enthusiasts are welcome to visit the space observatory to watch the meteor shower, with the observatory’s location providing an ideal spot to properly view the meteors.

“If people want to come they can contact us and let us know. We had 300 visitors at the space observatory for the Geminid meteor show. We’re not expecting such a big audience this time because the number of meteors per hour is much less for this event.”

The year’s final major space event will cap a busy year for the astronomy group, which has seen thousands of visitors to its space observatory over the past year.

“The space observatory had over 3,000 visitors so far in 2018, and we are expecting bigger numbers in 2019 as more people learn about us. What’s really made us proud is the large number of schoolchildren that have come to the observatory as part of organised school trips.

“One of our main goals is to be an educational platform for the community, especially for young children. We want to encourage an interest in astronomy and space science with the younger generation,” he added.

“Having a space observatory gives a huge boost to our efforts, because people can come and visit and get the chance to see space like never before, and this generates a lot of interest. There’s an organised place for them to go to now whenever there’s any major space event happening — like the Ursid meteor show — and that helps to build up the astronomy community,” Palado said, reflecting positively on the Abu Dhabi space observatory and its impact.

Interested space enthusiasts can contact the group directly on their website: http://alsadeemastronomy.ae/