Suhail star sighting in UAE skies means end of summer heat is near

Linked to ancient folklore, the star indicates changing of the seasons

The Suhail star was spotted on Wednesday morning. Photo: Twitter @AstronomyCenter
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Astronomers spotted the Suhail star in the UAE’s skies at dawn on Wednesday, which signifies that the end of the summer heat is near.

The Suhail star is significant among Arabs, particularly a long time ago when Arab sailors and fishermen used it to tell the changing of seasons.

The star appeared in the south-eastern portion of the sky, in the southern constellation of Carina.

Its visibility does not affect the weather in any way but its appearance coincides with the changing of seasons.

Cooler weather

Al Sadeem Observatory in Abu Dhabi said that the star was the second brightest in the night sky and easy to spot.

Its website says: “There is no other star in the sky much-anticipated in the Arab world than the Suhail (or the Canopus in the West) because, according to the folklore, it finally signals the gradual beginning of cooler days in the desert.

“Aside from helping early Arabs in telling the change of seasons, the star has also been a reliable tool for navigation for ancient sailors and travellers.”

It has largely been a typical UAE summer this year, with temperatures crossing 40°C.

But Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah experienced unusual weather because of heavy flooding.

Late last month, seven people were killed, more than 800 were rescued and thousands were moved into temporary accommodation after a summer deluge brought widespread flooding.

This month, a vast dust storm blanketed the country, including Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

The temperature in the afternoon most days is still about 40°C but the evenings have become slightly cooler.

Suhail star in Emirati culture

In Emirati culture, the appearance of Suhail is believed to be a “harbinger of abundance and everything good”.

The observatory says the star represents the first day of the so-called Suhaili Year for the Emiratis, divided into 14 seasons, upon which people in the past based their fishing, pearl hunting and farming activities.

“Suhail is also very prominent in art and literature of the Emiratis, often depicted as a symbol of love and the pureness of the heart,” the observatory said.

“The great, blind Arab philosopher Abu al-ʿAlaʾ al-Maʿarri often used Suhail in his writings for the same reason.”

Al Durour calendar

Residents should not expect an immediate return to cooler temperatures, as the traditional 365-day Emirati Al Drour calendar predicts a delay of about 70 to 80 days after sighting of the astronomical event.

UAE weather — in pictures

Updated: August 24, 2022, 11:24 AM