A part of Changthang Wildlife Sanctuary at Hanle, Ladakh is all set to become India’s first Dark Sky Reserve.
A tripartite MoU has been signed between the Ladakh administration, Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) and Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) to establish a first-of-its-kind in India ‘Dark Sky Reserve’ in Hanle, Ladakh.
A Dark Sky Reserve is a designation given to a place that has policies in place to ensure that a tract of land or region has minimal artificial light interference.
Several such reserves exist around the world but none so far in India.
The site will host activities to promote astronomy-tourism, giving a boost to local tourism and economy through science.
The Hanle Dark Sky Reserve (HDSR) will be an area spanning 22 km in radius centred on the Hanle observatory.
Why Hanle, Ladakh?
Being a cold desert region, Ladakh holds great potential for undertaking uninterrupted astronomical observations.
Dry weather and clear sky conditions prevail during most months of the year, making Hanle a naturally perfect setup for sky gazing and setting up astronomical observatories.
At a height of 4,500 metres, Hanle is already home to an optical, a gamma ray and an infrared telescope at the Indian Astronomical Observatory complex operated by the IIA.
These telescopes have been used to study stars, galaxies, exoplanets and the evolution of our Universe.