22 March 2014

On a quest to identifie, protect and preserve dark night skies, UNESCO STARLIGHT!

Me and Mr. Luis Martínez Sáez at the Starlight Initiative offices
in La laguna, Tenerfie, Canary Islands.
You have surely heard about the UNESCO’s World Heritage sites around the World?
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity.
This initiative is important right?

What about our night skies? What about our night skies over our cities? What about our night skies in our darkest spots on the planet? Should we protect it? Should we have a similar initiative for world heritage night sky sites?

Mr. Luis Martínez Sáez, Director and founder of the Starlight Foundation is asking the same questions and is eager to have the answers.
One year ago I visited Mr. Luis Martínez to interview him on the Starlight Initiative. You can read a past post on Links Through Space on the last year interview with Mr. Martinéz Sáez here:
This year I went back to meet with Mr. Martínez Sáez in La Laguna, Tenerife and get a follow up on the progress of the Initiative. Last year, the Starlight initiative had 1 destination that had received the Starlight Certificate for dark skies ( Alqueva Dark Sky Reserve, Portugal) and this year the total was 17 destinations, including tourism destinations and natural reserves. 9 more destinations are in progress of negotiation. El Montsec in Catalonia Spain and El Parque Nacional Fray Jorge en chile are one of the Starlight destinations.
Here is a link to these Starlight destinations:

The first Stralight destination Alqueva Dark Sky Reserve:

Some background. The Starlight Foundation is the body in charge of the operational management of the Starlight Initiative, providing human resources and means for the development of the Initiative.
The Starlight Initiative was launched in 2007 from a proposal of the IAC supported by UNESCO - MaB Programme, UNWTO, IAU, and other international conventions such as UNEP-CMS, SCBD, and Ramsar Convention, and is designed as an international action in defense of the values associated with the night sky and the general right to observe the stars.
The final aim of this Initiative is to promote the importance of clear skies for the humankind, emphasizing and introducing the value of this endangered heritage for science, education, culture, technological development, nature conservation, and tourism.

Many of us have never seen a true dark sky. People living in the cities see only the night sky as a peppered, here and there, dot of light. Only the brightest stars are visible, including the planets and the Moon. The light pollution of the street lamps and other source of light infringe our seeing of the night sky. Constellations are barely visible to the naked eye. You have to go further and further out of the cities to be able to see an exceptional night sky.

It's crucial to understand that Dark Sky status does not mean turning lights off. Rather it is about working with people and Councils to create better and less wasteful lighting and promoting the night sky as an asset for the region.

This problem of preserving good quality dark night skies is a real challenge. The expansion of cities with light accumulation, slow political involvement in concrete changes and bad lighting are all major problems against the preservation of dark skies.

I have included the Starlight Foundation LOGO on my blog header to be part of this Initiative and support this Initiative. :)
Please have a look at the Starlight Foundation website:

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