Crowds gather at Abu Dhabi corniche for Jupiter observation event
The UAE Space Agency hosted Saturday a Jupiter observation event on Abu Dhabi corniche, providing members of the public with rare views of the gas giant as it makes its closest approach to Earth this year at 666 million kilometers.
Known as an opposition, Jupiter is currently aligned with the Earth and the Sun, providing optimal opportunities to catch a glimpse of the solar system’s largest planet and some of its 67 moons. With a diameter of 140,000 kilometers Jupiter is visible with the naked eye, but the telescopes set up at the corniche allowed the many passers-by and enthusiasts to get detailed views of its rings and clouds.
Held in collaboration with the International Astronomical Centre, the event also featured participation from the Emirates Astronomical Society, Al Sadeem Astronomy Group, the UAE Astronomy Group, Aldhfra Astronomical Observatory and the Astronomy Club at New York University Abu Dhabi. This came as part of the Space Agency’s ongoing efforts to coordinate space sector activities and encourage public participation with space sciences.
As well as providing the public with access to advanced telescopes and observation equipment, the evening included lectures by prominent local astronomers, physicists and space sector personnel.
The event was opened by Dr. Mohammed Al Ahbabi, director general of the UAE Space Agency, who spoke of the importance of providing opportunities for the general public to engage with space sciences. He also noted the central role played by astronomy in raising awareness for the field.
Encouraging and facilitating community engagement with space sciences forms a cornerstone of the UAE Space Agency’s strategy for bolstering the sector, Dr. Al Ahbabi explained. “Our observation event this evening provided an accessible and entertaining way for all aspects of society to engage with this fascinating field and learn about our solar system. The turnout has been very encouraging, and we’re grateful to all the astronomers and groups that have helped bring this year’s Jupiter opposition to the public.”
Also presenting was Mohammed Odeh, director of the Abu Dhabi-based International Astronomy Centre, who spoke to public audiences and fellow astronomers about the Jupiter opposition. Odeh said: “With these events, our aim is to increase public awareness of astronomy, and I would say it’s been very successful. We look forward to having similar activities in the future in cooperation with the Agency.”
Earlier this year, the Space Agency held meetings with local astronomy societies and university groups to outline a framework for further collaboration in observation events and promoting public engagement with astronomy. The Agency hosts public observation sessions during major alignments, such as last year’s Mars Opposition and transit of Mercury.