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The National Center for Astronomy

About the industry

The National center for Astronomy is one of the research and development centers affiliated with King Abdul-Aziz City for Science and Technology. It aims at meeting the needs of the Kingdom of research, studies and applications. The most important needed applications include:

  • Determining prayer times and the beginning of the lunar month.
  • General applications such as determining the right time for agricultural seasons, adjusting the time, solar activities studies, radio observations, spectrum studies in addition to some military applications .
  • Enhancing the astronomical sense and awareness and activating the role of astronomical studies in supporting learning and education of all levels
  • Enhancing the scientific position of the Kingdom and stimulating interest in science.

The National Center for Astronomy depends on the following capabilities to achieve its objectives:

  • The qualified and highly trained specialists in the field of Astronomy.

Developed observatories and observations equipment.

  • Initiating close relations with several concerned authorities.
  • The ability to do research and professional astronomical observations.

KACST owns seven observatories that were designed to meet the astronomical needs. These observatories are distributed in different areas and cities as follows:

  • Umm Al Qura Observatory near Makkah Al Mukarramah, which has a 16-inch telescope.
  • Tabuk Observatory, which has a 16-inch telescope.
  • Alwajeh Observatory, which has a 16-inch telescope.

The Center also develops devices for astronomical observations, as well as makes a software to analyze astronomical images and control telescopes remotely to observe celestial objects. The center also is working to connect all observatories.

KACST role

King Abdul-Aziz City for Science and Technology is interested in the field of Astronomy to develop astronomical applications that serve Kingdom’s needs by utilizing the best human talents, provision of high quality equipment and observatories, and exploitation of the geographic location and Islamic prestige of the kingdom to achieve and international cooperation in the field of astronomy. In order to achieve its objective, the center has developed and implemented programs and projects such as early crescent sighting to determine the beginning of the first lunar month in cooperation with legitimacy of the government and other agencies. The center aims at  developing the tools of observation constantly and bringing all advanced astronomical devices and technologies that are used in observation.

The center is also interested in astronomical studies and research in all aspects.

The center also focuses on observations of astronomical phenomena and events and preparing gatherings for interested communities in astronomical events. KACST also works on increasing the scientific awareness of the public by providing lectures, courses, and workshops and organizing trips and visits to schools, students and others. The center is also interested in enriching the scientific knowledge and refining technical skills through internal or external training workshops and by cooperating with international Astronomy centers. Moreover, the center rises the academic level through internal and external scholarships for Masters and PhD degrees in all disciplines of astronomy. The National Center for Astronomy also prepares the annual Umm Al-Qura national calendar and comprises members who are in the main committee of the national calendar.