The Department of Science & Technology (DST) has announced the setting up of India’s first Dark Sky Reserve in Hanle, Ladakh in the next three months.
What is a Dark Sky Reserve?
A Dark Sky Reserve is public or private land with a distinguished nocturnal environment and starry nights that have been developed responsibly to prevent light pollution.
According to the International Dark Sky Association (IDSA), these reserves “consist of a core area meeting minimum criteria for sky quality and natural darkness, and a peripheral area that supports dark sky preservation in the core.
To promote astronomy tourism in a sustainable and environment-friendly manner. Scientific methods will be used here to preserve the night sky from ever-increasing light pollution.
How does a site become a ‘Dark Sky Reserve’?
Individuals or groups can nominate a site for certification to the International Dark Sky Association (IDSA). There are five designated categories, namely International Dark Sky parks, communities, reserves, sanctuaries, and Urban Night Sky Places.
The certification process is similar to that of a site being awarded the UNESCO World Heritage Site tag or getting recognized as a Biosphere Reserve. Between 2001 and January 2022, there have been 195 sites recognized as International Dark Sky Places globally.
Who is developing India’s first Dark Sky Reserve?
The Ladakh Union Territory administration is leading the efforts in establishing the country’s first Dark Sky Reserve.
To be situated at a height of 4,500 meters above sea level, the Hanle Dark Sky Reserve (HDSR) will come up within the Changthang Wildlife Sanctuary.
Why was Ladakh chosen for the project?
Ladakh is a unique cold desert located about 3,000 meters above sea level with high mountainous terrains. Long and harsh winters with minimum temperatures dropping to minus 40 degrees Celcius make large parts of the UT highly inhabitable.
This aridity, limited vegetation, high elevation, and large areas with sparse populations – all make it the perfect setting for long-term astronomical observatories and dark sky places.