Wadi Rum stargazing: An astronomical wonder

(Photo: Wikimedia)
AMMAN — Wadi Rum, 330km south of Amman, is one of the world’s most popular stargazing destinations, topping several global lists by travel companies and catering to amateur and professional visitors alike.اضافة اعلان

Unlike other stargazing destinations, Wadi Rum offers an array of additional activities, becoming an all-time favorite among tourists.

Along with Petra and Aqaba, Wadi Rum is one of three major Jordanian tourism sites. Collectively, the three destinations are referred to as the Golden Triangle.

In addition to stargazing, this vast desert gives visitors a unique experience of nature, culture, geology, history, and desert sports.

According to Abdel Hadi, a stargazing organizer and expert, Wadi Rum ranks 2-3 on Bortle scale, a nine-level numeric scale that measures the night sky’s brightness in a given location.

Far from city life, Wadi Rum is not polluted by unwanted or excessive artificial lights, otherwise known as light pollution. Its high altitude and the absence of clouds in its sky make it a global astronomical destination, according to Abdel Hadi.

“I organize stargazing events at Wadi Rum and provide professional equipment to visitors, including special cameras, large telescopes, tracking devices,” Abdel Hadi told Jordan News in a phone interview.

Pushed by his love for astronomy, Abdel Hadi has created two observatories at two “luxotels”, where visitors can enjoy memorable overnight stays that are combined with stargazing night events.

(Photo: Ibrahim Rantissi)

Visitors get to watch the expansive sky with its stars, galaxies, nebulas, and planets.

According to Abdel Hadi, the best months for starwatching in Wadi Rum are July, August, and September. The Perseids meteor shower starts in July and reaches its peak on August 12 of each year.

A starwatching event usually includes a sky briefing, which uses lasers to point out the major elements that can be seen with the naked eye. It also uses telescopes, sky photography, and a briefing on the history and geology of the area.

Abdel Hadi called for promoting Wadi Rum as a standalone destination for astronomical activities, which would add to the diversity of Jordanian tourism.

The area should also be protected from light pollution, he said. This can be done by regulating the use of light inside the desert as well as surrounding areas.

Jordan has established several protected areas and reserves that have contributed to preserving nature. Many of these sites and reserves are protected from light pollution.

In addition to being a UNESCO World Heritage site, Wadi Rum is a nature reserve that covers an area of 720sq.km.

The desert is known for its sky-touching rocky mountains, its red-rose sand, and historical stops that date back to the Bronze Age.
Wadi Rum was also the location for several popular movies, as its landscape resembles Mars.

Movies like Lawrence of Arabia, the Martian, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, and Aladdin, among others, were shot in this desert.

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