Native Maldivian Ali Shameem has spent the last decade observing the stars as a professional astronomer and he shares his passion for astronomy with guests at Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas.
Growing up on an island without electricity, Shameem spent his childhood mapping the constellations. The Maldives lies just above the equator, and with such minimal light pollution, over 15,000 stars can be observed by the naked eye. While today he has the region’s most powerful telescope at hand, that boyish wonder remains.
Shameem has been taken under the wings of astronomy greats such as Dr. Giovanni Benjamin of the University of Padua’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, Buzz Aldrin – a Maldives regular, and Dr. Massimo Tarenghi who headed the ALMA Observatory in Chile from its inception. Shameem recently made the trek to ALMA himself to observe the world’s largest dark sky reserve.
On stargazing evenings he leads guests on a magical journey across both hemisphere’s constellations, pointing out the pale yellow rings of Saturn, the counter-rotating zones and belts of Jupiter that vary in width, colour and intensity from year to year, and the 300,000 stars that make up the Messier 13. His personal favourite is the Omega Centauri, a globular cluster in the Milky Way that according to him is “the most beautiful thing you will ever see”.