the branch of science that deals with celestial objects, space and the physical universe as a whole.
There is something very special about sitting out in the open and taking in the galaxies surrounding us. One of the best ways to explore the night sky is with a professional astronomer. There are only a few astronomers in the city, and we here at Dubai Travel Advice got lucky enough to catch one of them over a cup of coffee – meet Eddie Robinson, 29 years old and from Australia. Eddie works as an astronomer for the award-winning desert safari company, Platinum Heritage, and he is here to tell us all about the magical Dubai desert and its night sky.
1. Tell us more about your profession
Astronomy and deeper space, in general, are becoming much more popular topics thanks to tourism companies who emphasize space and its uniqueness. People are hungry for more information; however, they often struggle to understand the more technical terms regarding astronomy. At Platinum Heritage, we try and make this type of information more accessible to guests by offering them night safaris in which they can learn about the Arabian night sky in more detail and beyond just the simple facts. As an astronomer I customise my astronomy sessions to fit the group I present to, if they want to know more details, I am always happy to explain in more depth. Or if they want more storytelling, then I gladly tell them all the tales of the stars.
2. Where is the best place to look at the stars?
Getting out of the city is essential if you want to truly appreciate the night sky, hence the desert is the place to stargaze. Even though nights in the desert might seem daunting to some people, at Platinum Heritage we offer a range of facilities and opportunities for guests to safely and comfortably learn more about astronomy in and around Dubai. Whether they want to stay just a few hours, or for a night, we can accommodate all types of requests.
3. If we were lost in the desert, how would we find our way back to the city?
I would advise anyone planning to go to the desert to take instruments with them that can help them find their ways, such as a GPS or even a compass. Should these instruments fail you, you can always use natural elements to find your direction, such as the sun, moon and North Star. Most of the times when people end up in the desert, they are most likely to be South of Dubai. In this case, find the North Star and head North West, once you reach the coast you can head in any direction to find the next city. The North Star can be found at the tail end of the Little Bear. If you don’t know where the Little Bear in the sky is, I invite you to embark on a night desert safari with us to learn more about Astronomy.
4. How did you get interested in astronomy?
I grew up in the desert in Australia, under the night sky, which must be one of the most beautiful skies in the world. My grandpa used to tell us everything he knew about the stars. This combined with my love of space documentaries, piqued my interest in astronomy. When the opportunity arose for me to follow my passion in a place like Dubai, I had to grab it with both hands.
5. What is your favourite constellation and why?
Scorpius or the Scorpion. Because it looks so much like a Scorpion and humanity has been drawing it the same way for thousands of years. All of the stars in this constellation have Arabic names, each describing the different parts of the Scorpion.
6. What is your favourite thing about astronomy?
No matter where you go on earth, people tend to look up at the sky in the same way. It’s cool how in different parts of the world people have been using the sky in the same way for thousands of years. Whether it was the indigenous people of Australia or the Bedouin people of the Middle East.
7. What is the difference between stargazing and astronomy?
Stargazing is a simplified version of the more in-depth astronomy sessions that I usually host. With astronomy, I go into detail and tell guests more about what they can see in each constellation. For astronomy, I also use the telescope to be able to explain more.
8. If you weren’t an astronomer, what other job would you do?
I honestly cannot imagine myself doing any other job. I love my job, from constantly learning something new about space to being able to share my knowledge with guests.
If you want to learn more about Eddie’s adventures, you can follow him on Instagram @sand.andsky, where he regularly posts beautiful pictures of the sky and desert.
Now that we know a lot more about astronomy and its unique place in Dubai, we can’t wait to book our night safari with Platinum Heritage to learn even more. If you would also like to book a desert safari, you can either call +971 4 440 9827 or e-mail [email protected].