Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Starlight, Star Bright

Something I've been following in the back pages of the news for a while is New Zealand's application to UNESCO to make the sky over Lake Tekapo on the South Island the world's first heritage site in the sky.

There is an observatory beside the lake (Mt John Observatory), taking advantage of the area's complete lack of urban areas and light pollution. By creating a UNESCO Heritage Site, the area will be controlled so that no major light-creating developments can move in and spoil the view.

I wish I could tell you how beautiful the starry sky above Lake Tekapo looks, but when we were there just over a year ago it was cloudy. But I just love seeing the sky full of stars when it's blacker than black and it seems like you can see the entire universe unfolding above you. If there's a way to protect that view in just one place in New Zealand, I'm all for it!

Apparently eight proposals for night sky reserves went to UNESCO from around the world. At this point they are looking at New Zealand's proposal as well as one in Spain. The final decision will be made next year.

Right now New Zealand has three UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Milford Sound, Tongariro, and the Sub-Antarctic Islands.

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