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Explore Secrets of the Distant Stars with Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villa’s SKY Gurus

It’s hard to find a more ideal location than SKY at Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas to discover about the Maldives’ night sky. Located in Baa Atoll, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Anantara Kihavah is a stargazer’s dream location. The private island’s remoteness means that it is free from light pollution. Additionally, its proximity to the equator affords spectacular views of both the southern and northern sky.

At SKY, Anantara Kihavah’s overwater observatory, guests sip Champagne or cocktails and gaze through a powerful telescope. Two resident SKY Gurus, Zunnoon Ahmed (Zunnu) and Ali Arushal (Shalli) share fascinating stories of the night sky. Harnessing their local knowledge, they reveal intriguing tales behind distant constellations. Both natives of Baa Atoll, Zunnu and Shalli are captivating storytellers with unique backgrounds.

Zunoon Ahmed

Born and raised on the small island of Kudarikilu in Baa Atoll, Zunnu has always been fascinated by the night sky. His fascination evolved into a passion for astrophotography when he was just 16 years old. This marked the beginning of his journey into the world of astronomy.

Assistant IT Manager by Day and Storytelling SKY Guru by Night

Zunnu is currently serving as Assistant IT Manager by day and storytelling SKY Guru by night. With this, his passion for stargazing only grew stronger. He collaborates with online telescope operators in his spare time, engaging in astro imaging to capture captivating glimpses of the cosmos through remote telescopes. Additionally, he is constantly looking for new ways to expand his knowledge.

I always make it a habit to check online astronimy forums for the latest celestial discoveries and engage in discussions with fellow space enthusiasts, explains Zunnu.

Zunni originally joined Anantara Kihavah in 2017 as an IT Coordinator. In this role, he oversees the hotel network, manages hotel applications, and plays a key role in ensuring the seamless operation of various technological aspects for a smooth guest experience. From here, Zunnu grabbed the opportunity to develop his celestial passion. He started volunteering to study stargazing under the supervision of the resort’s first SKY Guru, Ali Shameem.

Across the next five years, Zunnu conducted research, took theory tests and participated in stargazing demos as part of his detailed training process.

The experience of learning about the stars was a bit challanging when I started. But it has become truly fantastic now. The journey of understanding the cosmos has been both rewarding and enlighting. We all have a natural curiosity to understand the world around us. And the night sky, with its myriad stars, has always been a source of wonder and questions. Stars often hold cultural and mythological significance in various societies. Many cultures have created stories, myths, and legends based on constellations and individual stars, adding a sence of mystery and importance, he says.

Recalling his first stargazing session at Anantara Kihavah, Zunnu commented on how the positive reactions of the guests turned it into a rewarding and fulfilling experience, both for him and for his captivated audience. Sharing his passion now comes easily to the engaging Zunnu. 

While his own personal favourite star is Aldebaran, Zunnu is more than happy to take advantage of Anantara Kihavah’s pristine location away from light pollution to find and share a variety of celestial events with the resort’s guests.

Ali Arushal

A more recent addition to Anantara Kihavah’s team of SKY Gurus, Shalli is another native of Baa Atoll. He was born and raised on the island of Kendhoo. Shalli describes his childhood on Kendhoo as happy and enjoyable. While his interest in the stars began at a young age, it was not until he joined Anantara Kihavah that he delved deeper into the field of astronomy.

From Ensuring Transport Operations to the Fascination with Skies

Shalli joined Anantara Kihavah’s transport department in 2021 as part of the launch crew. His main role involves ensuring smooth transport operations. However, his fascination with the Maldivian night sky led him to volunteer for training as the resort’s next SKY Guru.

During one and a half years of learning about stargazing from the resort’s first SKY Guru, Shalli’s intensive training involved theory tests, reading assignments, and stargazing demonstrations. Eager to expand his knowledge and complement his training, Shalli also seeks out additional information from the internet and YouTube.

Describing his first stargazing session with guests as stunning, Shalli quickly warmed to his new role. As a SKY Guru, Shalli enjoys sharing his passion and imparting unknown knowledge about the stars to others. Antares is Shalli’s personal favorite star. He finds joy in showing guests distant constellations and sharing spectacular events such as lunar eclipses, solar eclipses, or meteor showers.

The SKY Gurus guide guests through a cosmic journey, exploring stars and planets from both hemispheres. Using a green laser, they point out constellations and explain concepts like light years and galaxy types. Guests can then view the sky through the observatory telescope, which reaches 30 million light years away.

The locale gives guests an opportunity to see lunar eclipses, stars and planets invisible from Europe or America. Sometimes, depending on climate and time of the year, you can even catch a glimpse of Saturn with its pale-yellow rings, belts of Jupiter that vary in width, colour and intensity from year to year and the several hundred thousand stars that makeup Messier 13.

SKY is the finest overwater observatory in the Maldives built with a 3.8 metre revolving Ash- dome and equipped with a research-grade Meade 16” LX200 telescope with a magnification of 400x mounted on a super-giant field tripod.

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