Photo Courtesy: Prabhu, Education Coordinator, Mleiha Archaeological Center
The night sky lit up with more than 100 shooting stars Thursday night as the Geminid meteor shower peaked. The stunning sight of hundreds of space rocks crashing and burning in Earth’s atmosphere lasted more than three hours and was visible throughout the United Arab Emirates.
All stargazers had to do was get away from city and street lights to get a clear view of the night sky. One such place was deep in Sharjah’s rocky Mleiha Desert, where it becomes so dark that celestial objects shine at their brightest and the silence of nature drowns out all the sounds of the city.
My family and I were among hundreds of visitors who settled on cushions placed on rugs on the desert sand at the camp. The Al Faya limestone mountain range and Fossil Rock mountain served as a backdrop for the celestial spectacle.
The Moon was not visible, giving other objects in the cosmos a chance to shine. We saw the first shooting star the moment we walked in at 8.30 pm “A real shooting star, I saw a real shooting star,” my 9 year old son shouted as his excited voice echoed across the desert as our evening began.
We set out to track the Geminids, famous for being among the best and most reliable annual meteor showers.
As Khaleej Times At its peak, the meteor shower reportedly sees up to 120 bright, colorful shooting stars per hour streaking across the night sky.
My family and I expected to see about 50 shooting stars during the night, but we ended up counting exactly 103 in three hours. Each beam of light elicited collective gasps from stargazers: the brighter the shooting star, the louder the excited chatter.
Photo courtesy of: Prabhu, Education Coordinator, Mleiha Archaeological Center
Photo: Sahim Salim
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At one point, we saw three meteors burn at the same time. It was a sight to behold!
“You had fun?” I asked my 7 year old daughter that she had forgotten about her digital device all night.
“I saw 103 shooting stars, real shooting stars,” he shouted, his voice echoing across the desert as our evening ended.
The stargazing event organized by the Mleiha Archaeological and Ecotourism Project was not the only one held on Thursday night.
The Dubai Astronomy Group said its event at Al Qudra Lake was attended by 500 people.
Photo: Dubai Astronomy Group
Photo: Dubai Astronomy Group
Hundreds of residents also ventured into the desert alone to watch the spectacle.
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