One of my favorite things to do is go star gazing. There’s nothing like laying on earth, staring up at a canvas of glittering celestial wonders to make you feel infinite. Last night was the yearly event of the Perseid Meteor Shower. Every year, around mid July and peaking around August 12, the Perseid meteor shower graces us with a show. This year it was advised that one could view up to 200 meteors per hour. With high hopes for a fantastic celestial show, I joined a group of buddies who were heading out to the desert to catch a glimpse of the action. Our spot: the sand dune fossils in Abu Dhabi, a highly rated eco-tourist hot spot (that I had surprisingly never been to). So, with the camera gear packed and a sense of adventure, I headed out to check two firsts off my list – photograph a meteor shower and see these mysterious sand dune fossils.
Lesson one – the sand dune fossils are right next to a camel farm = everything smells like camel dung
Lesson two – I don’t know jack about photographing meteor showers (but I’m learning!)
Lesson three – bring 3x more water then you think is necessary when traveling out to the desert in the UAE in AUGUST. Even when it’s night time, it’s over 100 degrees Fahrenheit and you will sweat like pig. No getting around that one.
As an eco-tourist, I would definitely rate this high on my list of things to see in Abu Dhabi, UAE.
As an eco-tourist, I would definitely rate this high on my list of things to see in Abu Dhabi, UAE. The dune fossils are each a work of art – shaped by natural forces and time – there’s nothing like it. If you plan on visiting these beauties, you’ll be driving on a dirt road for a bit, easily manageable with most vehicles. As I said – it will be next to a camel farm, so prepare to smell camel dung, though surprisingly enough, I got used to it pretty quick, and by the end of the night didn’t even notice it. Aside from the occasional aircraft taking off from the military base next door, the area is quiet and serene. You aren’t really in the middle of nowhere as you can see the local industrial center nearby, but when you are facing the dune fossils, nothing else really matters. I advise wearing sandals (hate getting sand in my sneakers *shutters*) and again, as I stated above – bring lots of water….more than you think you need. Temperatures in the UAE are hot, and the high levels of humidity make it feel even hotter (it was 11pm and still 102 degrees Fahrenheit when we were there). You don’t want to be in the desert suffering from dehydration and not have any water. On the subject of water, we noticed MANY empty plastic water bottles left behind by other tourists. If you go, please pick up your own trash. The area isn’t an “official” attraction so there aren’t trash cans, bathrooms, or a staff that will pick up after you. As the saying goes, “Take only pictures, leave only footprints”.
“Take only pictures, leave only footprints”
As soon as we arrived, I saw my first meteor – I wasn’t even out of the car yet! To me, this was a good sign. I was anticipating seeing the full 200 per hour I read about online. Full of excitement and wonder, we quickly picked a spot near a sand dune fossil and settled down for a two and a half hour star show. I brought a picnic blanket to lay on, my yoga mat, water, and of course – my camera gear. Unfortunately, that first meteor would turn out to be the only meteor I saw that night. The light pollution from nearby civilization and the bright moon prevented our eyes from seeing more than a small patch of faint stars above us. I did manage to snag a few photos of the sand dune fossils, but I will definitely be returning for more as my photographic appetite was not fulfilled. Next time I visit, perhaps I will go for a sunrise or sunset fashion shoot!
Here are a few photos from my trip – they have been artfully altered by adding in stars and color. Enjoy!
Did you see any meteors from the Perseid shower? Let me know by commenting below. Also, if you have photos posted on Instagram, I’d love to see them! Tag – message – comment – however you want to connect, you can find me on Instagram – @kayla_harnish