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Home » Ladakh to have India’s first ‘Dark Sky Reserve, Know all about It

Ladakh to have India’s first ‘Dark Sky Reserve, Know all about It

Ladakh to have India’s first ‘Dark Sky Reserve, Know all about It

The Ladakh administration will soon offer a new tourist attraction, particularly for star lovers and space enthusiasts. India’s first “night sky sanctuary”, Ladakh will host India’s first Dark Sky Reserve, to be established in the Hanle area in the next three months.

According to the state’s minister for science and technology, Dr. Jitendra Singh, the stakeholders involved in the Dark Sky Reserve project will ensure that the night sky in Hanle is protected from any unwanted lighting or light pollution. The minister stressed that Hanle was chosen for the reserve as it has the least human disturbance and offers clear skies and dry weather conditions throughout the year.

Singh said that the Union Territory administration, the Ladakh Autonomous Hills Development Council (LAHDC) Leh and the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) recently signed a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to launch the Dark Sky Reserve.

The minister said that all stakeholders will work together to preserve the night sky from light pollution and unwanted illumination, which is a serious threat to scientific observations and natural sky conditions. He said that Hanle was best suited for the project as it is located in the cold desert region of Ladakh, far from any form of human disturbance and there are clear sky and dry weather conditions throughout the year.

What is a Dark Sky Reserve?

A Night Sky Sanctuary is usually a place that offers the perfect conditions for astronomical observations. According to the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), a Dark-Sky Reserve is public or private land that exhibits an exceptional quality of starry lights and a nocturnal atmosphere. Such areas are specifically protected for their natural, scientific or educational value or for public enjoyment.

A Dark Sky Reserve (DSP) is a protected area free from man-made light pollution. These areas are used to help promote astronomy. Different countries have different programs to convert areas into dark sky reserves. The International Dark Sky Association (IDA) uses the word “reserve” instead of “park” or “reserve” for its dark sky reserves. This is so people don’t confuse International Dark Sky Reserves (IDSR) and International Dark Sky Parks (IDSP).

Why Ladakh chosen for Dark Reserve?

Sparsely populated cold desert: The Indian Astronomical Observatory, the IIA’s high-altitude station, is located north of the western Himalayas at an altitude of 4,500 meters above mean sea level.

Located on top of Mount Saraswati in the Nilamkhul Plain in Changthang’s Hanle Valley, it is a cold, dry desert with a sparse human population and has Hanle Monastery as its closest neighbour.

Clear skies: Cloudless skies and low levels of water vapour in the atmosphere make it one of the best places in the world for optical, infrared, submillimeter, and millimeter wavelengths.

Located in the cold desert region of Ladakh, Hanle was chosen to establish the Dark Sky Reserve due to its remote location. The place is away from the hustle and bustle and thus witnesses minimal light pollution. Such light pollution occurs due to artificial lighting from vehicles and other sources that interfere with astronomical observations in the night sky.

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