Look up to the sky tonight and you are likely to see Jupiter, Mercury, Venus, Uranus and Mars in an arc, alongside the moon
While everyone else will be looking forward to Iftar, Abu Dhabi’s astronomy enthusiasts will be looking to the stars when the sun sets today.
In a rare celestial event, five planets will be visible in the UAE skies, and stargazers in Abu Dhabi are in luck with a few fantastic spots to watch the night-time spectacle.
Look up to the sky tonight and you are likely to see Jupiter, Mercury, Venus, Uranus and Mars in an arc, alongside the moon.
The best part is that you don’t need a fancy telescope to observe the planets; you can watch it with the naked eye, particularly Mercury, Jupiter, Venus and Mars.
Uranus, however, can only be viewed with a telescope because of the urban lights and the moon’s glare, according to astronomers.
Mercury and Jupiter will be lying low on the horizon, offering a shorter window to view the two planets, so you need to catch it early in the evening. Venus and Mars are expected to appear later in the night, along with Uranus.
The last time the five-planet alignment was seen was in June 2022, and previously in 2016 and 2020.
Astronomers say the phenomenon would not be seen again until 2040.
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The best locations for spotting the planets are those away from any bright city lights, with a clear, unobstructed view.
Here are some of the best spots in Abu Dhabi to watch this cosmic phenomenon.
Al Sadeem Astronomy
Al Sadeem Observatory is a space observatory located in the middle of the desert in Al Wathba South. The observatory opened to the public in 2016 and offers guided tours and private stargazing experience to its visitors.
Al Sadeem Observatory is currently offering a unique stargazing experience with a guided tour as part of 421’s Ramadan 2023 Programme.
For more information and to book a visit, visit alsadeemastronomy.ae
Al Quaa: the Milky Way spot
Easily one of the top places for stargazing in Abu Dhabi and across the UAE, Al Quaa or the “Milky Way spot” is just over an hour and a half drive from the capital city.
It is one of the darkest spots in the country, with very little light pollution, making it a perfect place for amazing sightings of celestial objects.
The spot got its name as it offers the best views of the Milky Way, the galaxy where Earth is located.
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Its location on the western edge of the UAE, away from any major city on the border with Saudi Arabia makes Shuweihat Island a good candidate for stargazing and observing the planetary movements. The island’s closest town is Al Ruwais, with Sir Baniyas Island to the right off the coast.
Rub Al Khali Desert: the Empty Quarter
Popularly known as the Empty Quarter, Rub Al Khali is massive, covering 583,000 square kilometres and cutting across the borders of the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Oman.
Its location far away from major cities makes it perfect for stargazing. For the best experience, try to get in touch with astrology groups or tour companies that organise stargazing tours in the area.
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