The free astro-tourism guide course will be held Tuesday Oct 13th to Sat Oct 17th from 4pm to midnight. Open to residents of Argyle Municipality, Clare Municipality, Acadia First Nation, and the Municipality of the District of Yarmouth.
Astronomy in Nova Scotia
Support tools for sky interpretation
Significant starts and constellations
The sky in different seasons
The sun and the moon
The solar system and exoplanets
The electromagnetic spectrum
The moon, sun and planets
The local universe
Stralight foundation, certification, light pollution and sky protection
Every night there will be a practice/night visit out of doors.
Sign up by calling (902) 648-2623 or emailing Charlene leblanc : firstname.lastname@example.org
By: Charles L. Leary, PhD
Important distinctions exist between the designations given to various places in the world deemed as high quality places for viewing the stars. In general, the greatest difference is between places, on the one hand, certified for the quality of their skies for astronomical observation, which receive a "Starlight" designation, and, on the other hand, places with really dark skies, which get some kind of 'Dark Sky" name. Dark skies, of course, generally lead to amazing views of the stars, and promotes abatement of light pollution.
Dark Sky designations come from either the International Dark Sky Association
or The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada
.. According to the United States-based Association
, its Dark Sky Places program "promotes preservation and protection of night skies across the globe. Three types of areas compose the program: communities, parks, and reserves." It claims to be "the only non-profit organization fighting to preserve the night."This is not quite the case. The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC) has taken the lead in creating a strict certification process for dark sky places in that country. The RASC has developed formal guidelines and requirements for two types of light-restricted protected areas: Dark-Sky Preserves and Urban Star Parks. To achieve certification, RASC requires a program to "educate and promote the reduction of light pollution to the public and nearby municipalities." In addition, scientific measurements must demonstrate the darkness of night-time skies, including photography of sky glow and Sky Quality Metre (SQM) measurements.
The last organization to join this astronomical party is the Starlight Foundation
, headquartered in Spain. Foundation Director Luis Martinez explained in an interview the Foundation's purpose and backing:
The Starlight Foundation is the body in charge of the operational management of the Starlight Initiative, providing human resources and means for its development and promotion.
The Starlight Initiative was launched in 2007 from a proposal of the IAC supported by UNESCO - MaB [Mand & Biosphere] Programme, UNWTO [UN World Tourism Organization], IAU [International Astronomical Union], and other international conventions such as UNEP-CMS, SCBD, and Ramsar Convention, and is designed as an international action in defense of the values associated with the night sky and the general right to observe the stars.
The final aim of this Initiative is to promote the importance of clear skies for the humankind, emphasizing and introducing the value of this endangered heritage for science, education, culture, technological development, nature conservation, and tourism.
Based at the world-class Canaries Astrophysics Institute (IAC), the Foundation gives two primary designation to places: Starlight Reserves and Starlight Tourist Destinations. In 2014, the Foundation also started granting certifications to hotels & country inns
that offer quality astro-tourism products or experiences.
The certifications for both Tourist Destination and Reserves is extremely strict, and subject to an on-site audit. Scientific measurements are taken not just of night sky darkness (using a Sky Quality Metre, like that used in RASC certifications), but also actual astronomical observation, with tests of Seeing
and Transparency. Environment Canada
explains what is meant by astronomical transparency:
Observing deep sky objects such as faint galaxies and nebulae requires excellent sky transparency. Astronomers evaluate sky transparency with the faintest star visible to the unaided eye. In semi-desertic regions such as Arizona, one can see stars as faint as faint as 6.5-7.2 magnitude. At mid-latitudes and in the more humid eastern regions. most of the time sky transparency is limited to the 5.5-6.5 range in the countryside. Sky transparency also varies with airmass type. With a humid airmass the transparency is reduced significantly.
Finally, the Starlight certification requires documenting the percentage of cloud cover throughout the year. Thus the Starlight certifications can be either seasonal or year-long.
The Starlight program's intentional focus on not just dark skies and lack of light pollution, but also sky quality, combined with its audit procedures, makes it the most comprehensive certification program in the world at the present time. It's emphasis on culture and tourism is also notable and praiseworthy. Given the Foundation's location, most of the Reserves and Tourist Destination thus far certified are on the Iberian Peninsula or in a Spanish-speaking country like Chile.
Acadian Skies & Mi'kmaq Lands is proud to be the first certified Starlight Destination and Reserve in North America, a process that took nearly two years to complete!
The result of the Reserve audit is below:
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The Starlight Foundation
, headquartered at the Canaries Astrophysics Institute in Spain, has awarded Starlight Reserve and Tourist Destination status to the Acadian Skies & Mi’kmaq Lands located in southwestern Nova Scotia. This area is the first destination in North America to receive a Starlight certification and is one of only four places in the world to receive both Reserve and Destination designations. The region has the Tobeatic Wilderness Area at its core and covers the lands of Argyle, Clare, and Yarmouth municipalities.
Starlight Tourist Destinations must not only demonstrate the quality of their skies and the means to guarantee their protection, but they must also have adequate infrastructure and tourism-related activities: accommodation, equipment for astronomical observation provided to clients, and the training of personnel responsible for astronomical interpretation and their integration into nature at night.
Michel Samson, Minister of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism, made the official announcement of the certifications at the 2014 Tourism Industry Summit in Halifax. Minister Samson said he believes Nova Scotia is ready to attract more visitors with this new designation and looks forward to working with businesses and community partners to develop new tourism experiences that grow our economy, motivate travel and share this part of our Province’s natural beauty.
Operators like the Trout Point Lodge, adjacent to the vast Tobeatic Wilderness Area, are already taking advantage of their natural setting by developing astro-tourism offerings. In fact, it was designated as the world’s first certified Starlight Hotel in September.
The Starlight Initiative is supported by UNESCO, the International Astronomical Union and the World Tourism Organization.
The initiative was lead by La Société Touristique Bon Temps d'Argyle
and supported by the Nova Sccotia Tourism Agency, the municipalities of Argyle, Clare, and Yarmouth, Acadia First Nation, and the SW Nova Biosphere.