The Maldives has some of the clearest skies in the world. Hammadh Ibrahim Rasheed, senior sky guru at the Anantara Kihavah Maldives, is an expert on stargazing and deciphering their mysteries.
From spotting shooting stars to teaching tots to scan the constellations, stargazing is a stellar holiday activity. We ask senior sky guru a series of questions from the importance of the clarity of the Maldives’ skies in spotting stars to the likelihood of getting to wish on a shooting star.
WHICH IS THE GREATEST STAR AND WHY?
Sirius, because it is the brightest.
WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU DO WHEN SETTING OUT TO GO STARGAZING?
Checking if the sky and weather are conducive. If they are, I arrange the telescope and conduct an initial personal observation to identify visible constellations and planets.
WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES LIGHT POLLUTION MAKE?
Light pollution makes a significant impact on the night sky, as it reduces the visibility of even the most luminous stars. Thankfully, at Anantara Kihavah, here in the Maldives, we have minimal light pollution, making it an ideal place to go stargazing.
WHAT’S THE MOST BASIC EQUIPMENT YOU CAN USE TO GO STARGAZING?
A telescope. How long does it take to learn all of the stars? It would be impossible to learn all of the stars in a lifetime, as our Milky Way has billions. Acquiring a comprehensive knowledge of the entire sky, including its most prominent constellations and stars, demands nearly a year of dedicated study.
WHICH IS THE MOST INTERESTING OF THE CONSTELLATIONS?
Scorpio. It is very visible in the sky and it is one of the luminous stars observable without a telescope.
HOW DO YOU TEACH A CHILD TO STARGAZE?
The suggested age to begin is around eight years old, when children have the ability to grasp constellation terms and an understanding of how the universe works. The initial step would involve an astronomy class tailored for kids, where they can learn the basics in an enjoyable manner, covering topics such as constellations, galaxies and planets, and terms like light years and nebulas. Subsequently, an expert should guide them, providing a hands-on experience of observing stars.
HOW OFTEN MIGHT WE SEE A SHOOTING STAR? DO THEY OCCUR FREQUENTLY?
Shooting stars can be seen very often in the night sky. But there are certain times of the year when they are more frequent — for instance, the Gemini meteor shower, which occurs in mid December.
WHAT IS THE GREATEST PHENOMENON IN THE SOLAR SYSTEM?
For me, the most remarkable phenomenon in our solar system is Saturn. While planets like Jupiter and Neptune have faint rings, Saturn’s bright and prominent ring is mesmerizing, accompanied by over 100 moons in its orbit.