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Africa Gets ‘Dark Sky’ Sanctuary for Space Observation

Skywatchers wanting to experience some of the darkest skies anywhere in the world have a new dream destination in Africa. This week the Arizona-based International Dark Sky Association (IDA), a  night sky preservation advocacy group announced that one of southern Africa’s largest privately own reserves, NamibRand Nature Reserve in Namibia is not only the world’s newest International Dark Sky Preserve but the continent’s first.

This coveted designation is given to wilderness areas where the sky quality and darkness are protected from the nuisance of light pollution and people are able to soak in the starry heavens in their pristine state. Canada and England are home to the two other certified International Dark Sky Reserves.

As cosmopolitan areas continue to grow, so does artificial light pollution from street and building lights. As a result maybe only a couple of dozen of the brightest stars are visible from typical urban setting, compared to as many as one to three thousand stars from a remote, dark countryside.

Extending over an area of 172,200 hectares the NamibRand has been actively supporting the management of the unique ecology and wildlife found along the eastern edge of the Namib desert. Tourism directly finances the parks conservation and educational efforts and now by adding this new designation the hope is that it will not only enhance the nature experience but educate people about the heritage of the night sky and the importance of proper lighting.

“The night sky over the NamibRand Nature Reserve is exceptional, as are the efforts the reserve has taken in modifying its lighting for the sake of its wildlife and visitors,” said IDA’s Executive Director Bob Parks in a press release statement.

To read the entire story, go to National Geographic

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