Dark Sky Park

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Star Park

Preservation of the wonders of the sky

When was the last time you were able to marvel at a night sky spangled with stars? For most of us the illustrious sight of a star-spattered firmament is all but ordinary. The increasing “need” to light up streets and buildings, even to install so called sky beamers to abuse the night sky as free advertising space, takes this beautiful view into our universe away from many people already.

This short film shows the dramatic scale of this loss.

The so called light pollution doesn’t just rob us of one of our most important cultural assets, but also poses a threat to man and beast. Millions of insects die every night inside of street lamps in Germany, migrating birds get distracted by the light and become lost.

The harmful consequences of excessive  lighting in the night for several nocturnal species – from frogs to sea turtles –, have been documented and scientifically proven. Even for us humans, excessive exposure to artificial light in the night is bad: it suppresses the production of melatonin and increases the probability of developing carcinoma.

In the end, the excessive nightly lighting is bad for all life forms on our planet since the energy use that goes hand in hand with it, contributes to the global climate change.

12 million tons of CO2 (thus estimated by the VDI) are released in Europe every year – just to supply the energy for street lightening!

Harz as “star preserve”

The increasing light pollution prompted many astronomers to demand the establishment of so called Star Parks – “star preserves” in which people can see the “real” sky – starlit and full of celestial objects to behold.

Such a star park doesn’t just please the astronomy scene, but can also augment the appeal of a holiday region considerably. And what would make more sense than to create such a park where nature’s already under protection and the nightly lighting is limited – in our national parks.

Especially Sankt Andreasberg offers excellent conditions for watching the stars. The wonders of the night sky are clearly visible here – unlike in proximity to lit-up megacities like Berlin or Hannover. They are in fact so visible, that Sankt Andreasberg was listed in the “Star Park programm” supported by UNESCO in 2011.

In early 2012, the specialist group Dark Sky of the Vereinigung der Sternenfreunde – the biggest association of amateur astronomers in Germany with more than 4.000 members – included the Sankt Andreasberg region in the list of “observation areas of highest quality” in Germany – a list of only seven locations.

In 2011, a group under the direction of Dr. Andreas Hänel, director of the Planetarium Osnabrück and head of the specialist group Dark Sky, took measurements of the quality of observation, with the conclusion that a naturally dark sky (21.75 mag/arsec2) can be found between Braunlage and Sankt Andreasberg – a condition for astronomical observations almost singular in Germany.

Therefore we postulate: Designate the Harz National Park as a Star Park!

Such a demand is certainly easier made than met, as there are some rather challenging and strict requirements, astronomical as well as ecological.

However, we are convinced that together we can succeed in obtaining this exceptional honorary distinction – by doing lobby work in politics, and a lot of educational work in the matter of light pollution.

Everybody who’s interested in helping in that matter, can do so. Just e-mail us at reinboth@sternwarte-sankt-andreasberg.de

We support local projects to reduce light pollution, as well as ventures against inadequate/bad street lighting, sky beamers etc.

We’re building our observatory in one of the last dark places in Germany.

A short concluding remark about the project “Wurmberg 2015”

 

We often get approached upon our protest against the expansion of the skiing area at the Wurmberg, in its proceedings for the project construction assessment. As you can look up here, the SAOA is all but opposed to tourism. However, in the light of the increasing light pollution, we criticise the current plans for “floodlit skiing at night”. You can read our general statement on the project “Wurmberg 2015” here, our response to the planned floodlights at the Wurmberg, you can find here.

Contact for information on “light pollution”/”star park”:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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