UAE: Summer best time to see Milky Way, say astronomers

Sky gazers can spot flashes of sporadic meteors, visible nebulae



by

Nandini Sircar

Published: Fri 8 Jul 2022, 11:28 AM

Summer is the best time to see the Milky Way, according to astronomy experts based in the UAE.

The Emirates Astronomical Society reportedly said that this is the period of the year, which starts from the beginning of summer and to the start of autumn, considered the best time to view the Milky Way.

Astronomy enthusiasts and night gazers in the country should look at the night sky from June until the start of September in areas in the UAE's far south.

Hasan Al Hariri, CEO-Dubai Astronomy Group, said, "When we look at the sky, we'll be able to observe a central bulge in the sky which is the core of the Milky Way. This area is a bit swollen. The best view of the Milky Way with all the clouds and nebulae and concentration of stars are visible in the summertime….which is around this time of the year."

"North is the North Star, so that is the outer area of the Milky Way. But if you look to the middle of the south, you'll see the bulge of the Milky Way above the horizon, nearly towards the centre of the sky. It rises with the night and sets with the morning as the Sun comes out."

He explains throughout the night, the Milky way will be visible in any dark space that one can reach.

However, the rare viewing comes with a warning.

"The whole thing will be magnificent. But people should be careful and should not go out alone, as due to the summer heat, different types of insects will be out. Create a group and watch the areas. Take all the precautions for venturing into the desert."

"The best view would be from the high mountains like Jebel Hafeet or Jebel Jais where the weather will be a little pleasant at the nighttime and one can get a clear view. If you have small telescopes, you can see more details like the number of visible nebulae. Sometimes, you'll see sporadic meteors flashing here and there", adds Hariri.

Further explaining the phenomenon Sarath Raj, Project Director – Amity Dubai Satellite Ground Station and AmiSat, Amity University Dubai, says, "The Milky Way galaxy is described as a four-armed SBb (barred spiral galaxy). It is approximately 13.6 billion years old and has long rotating arms."

According to extragalactic frames of reference, the Milky Way is travelling at a speed of about 600 km/s. The Milky Way contains between 100 and 400 billion stars and has a mass between 890 billion and 1.54 trillion times that of the Sun.

He adds, "The star density decreases as one advances away from the Milky Way's centre. The Milky Way's galactic plane fills a region of the sky that encompasses 30 constellations, and it appears to the naked eye as a faint, hazy shape of stars in the night sky when viewed from Earth."

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Raj also highlights that the "Milky Way can be seen throughout the year no matter the location."

"As long as the sky is clear and there is no light pollution, it can be seen. The Milky Way is best observed at its darkest, which occurs just after astronomical twilight at night and just before twilight at dawn. Winter months have the longest duration. The optimum time to view the Milky Way is from March to September in the Northern Hemisphere and from September to March in the Southern Hemisphere. When the Galactic Center is almost vertical to the horizon, the Milky Way is at its most intriguing. The stars appear brightest, and the light is strongest at this time."


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