The Hanle in Ladakh is all set to become India’s first Dark Sky Reserve.
The site is going to promote astronomy-tourism, giving a boost to local tourism through science.
What is a dark-sky reserve (DSR)?
A dark-sky Reserve (DSR) is an area, usually surrounding a park or observatory that restricts artificial light pollution.
The International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) is associated with the International Dark Sky Reserve (IDSR) and International Dark Sky Park (IDSP).
An International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) was founded in 1988 to reserve public or private land for an exquisite outlook of nocturnal territories and starry night skies.
In 1993, Michigan became the first state in the United States to designate a tract of land as a "Dark Sky Reserve" at the Lake Hudson State Recreation Area.
It is generally understood that a dark-sky reserve, should be sufficiently dark to promote astronomy.
However, this is not always the case. The lighting protocol for a dark-sky reserve is based on the sensitivity of wildlife to artificial light at night.
What is the objective of these reserves?
The purpose of the dark-sky movement is generally to promote astronomy.
However, astronomy is certainly not the only objective of conserving a dark sky.
A dark night sky is associated with so many facets of history, philosophy, religion, societal development, poetry, song, mathematics, and science.
The preservation of a DSR is necessary to understand our environmental history.
India’s first site for dark reserve
A part of Changthang Wildlife Sanctuary at Hanle in Ladakh is all set to become India’s first Dark Sky Reserve.
The site will also promote astronomy tourism, giving a boost to local tourism through science.
The reason for selecting site for the programme:
Ladakh holds great potential for undertaking uninterrupted astronomical observations.
At a height of 4,500 metres, Hanle is already home to optical, gamma ray and infrared telescopes for Space exploration.
It is pristine for the dry weather for most months of the year, remains cloudless during nights and offers dark skies, making it a perfect natural setup for sky gazing.
About the Hanle Dark Sky reserve (HDSR)
The HDSR will be an area spanning 22 km in radius centred around the Hanle observatory.
Both locals and tourists both have to follow regulations that will be imposed on the outdoor lighting, use of high beam vehicle headlights, light shields and curtains, among other measures to cut down light pollution.
Under the observatory the administration, local council members along with the scientists will collectively work towards preservation of the night sky from unwanted light pollution and illumination.