AMMAN — USAID, in cooperation with the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA), launched on Monday the Sky Gate Telescope Observatory in Wadi Rum, according to a USAID statement.

The observatory gives visitors and local residents “a unique window into the heavens”.

The Sky Gate Project “is the first public telescope of its kind in the Middle East”.

The telescope is designed “not only to educate scientists, students and tourists on astronomy, but also to help alleviate poverty and stimulate tourism in the region by attracting international and local visitors to the area”, the statement said.

The largest telescope in Jordan, it can view stars and planets up to 1.5 million light years away from Earth.

“The telescope… will now be available for tourists and residents who want to star gaze in the desert.” The observatory was established through a USAID grant in collaboration with ASEZA.