Ladakh government partners with Hill Development Council and IIA, Bengaluru to set up the reserve
In a unique initiative, the Department of Science & Technology (DST) has announced the establishment of India’s first Dark Sky Reserve in Hanle, Ladakh over the next three months.Located about 4,500 meters above sea level, Hanle houses telescopes and is considered one of the world’s most optimal sites for astronomical observations. To ensure that the site remains well-suited for astronomy, the night sky must remain pristine or ensure minimal interference with the telescopes from artificial light sources such as electric light and vehicle lighting from the ground.A Dark Sky Reserve is a designation given to a place that has policies to ensure that a piece of land or region has minimal interference with artificial light. The International Dark Sky Association is a US-based non-profit organization that designates places as International Dark Sky Places, Parks, Sanctuaries and Reserves depending on the criteria they meet. Several such reserves exist all over the world, but none so far in India.In June, a triple memorandum of understanding was signed between the Union Territory Board, the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC), Leh, and the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), Bengaluru, which uses and maintains the telescopes, for the launch from the dark space reserve. Science Minister Jitendra Singh said on Saturday, after meeting with RK Mathur, Lieutenant Governor of Ladakh, that the site “…will have activities to boost local tourism and economy through science and technology.”Dr. Annapurni Subramaniam, director of the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, said that in order to promote astrotourism, villages around Hanle will be encouraged to promote homestays equipped with telescopes that visitors can use to view the night sky. Villagers and residents will also be trained to assist visitors with astronomical observations. “There would be restrictions on vehicles and headlights in the evening and at night. There will be road markings, just like outside observatories. People can come, park, observe the sky and stay with host families,” she said. The Hindu
.A visitor center would also be established in the coming days to educate people not only about astronomy, but also about the flora and fauna in the adjacent Changthang Wildlife Sanctuary.
The Indian Astronomical Observatory, IIA’s high-altitude station, is located north of the western Himalayas, at an elevation of 4,500 meters above mean sea level. Located atop Mount Saraswati in the Nilamkhul Plain in the Hanle Valley of Changthang, it is a dry, cold desert with a sparse human population and has the Hanle Monastery as its closest neighbor. The cloudless sky and low atmospheric water vapor make it one of the best locations in the world for optical, infrared, submillimeter and millimeter wavelengths.The Himalayan Chandra Telescope (HCT), High Energy Gamma Ray Telescope (HAGAR), the Major Atmospheric Cherenkov Experiment Telescope (MACE), and GROWTH-India are prominent telescopes at the Hanle Observatory.
The Department of Science & Technology (DST) has announced the establishment of India’s first Dark Sky Reserve in Hanle, Ladakh in the next three months.
A Dark Sky Reserve is a designation given to a place that has policies to ensure that a piece of land or region has minimal interference with artificial light.
Several such reserves exist all over the world, but none so far in India.
SOURCE – www.thehindu.com