What is Ladakh's Dark Sky Reserve Astronomy Facility?

Upgrade your UPSC CSE preparation and knowledge base with our daily dose of Current Affairs wherein we discuss topics that are making news both at national level and international level. In today’s edition we will discuss Ladakh’s Dark Sky Reserve Astronomy Facility in detail and its relevance to the UPSC IAS syllabus.

For Prelims: Dark Sky Reserve, Changthang Wildlife Sanctuary, UT of Ladakh

For Mains:  Tourism sector, Awareness in the field of space.

Also read our yesterday’s edition of Current Affairs on PM-SHRI Yojna

Probable Question

Discuss various steps taken to promote the tourism sector.

Context

Dr Jitendra Singh, Minister of State (Independent charge) for Science and Technology, announced that by the end of 2022, India will establish the country’s first Dark Sky Reserve in the cold desert regions of Ladakh. The formal decision to set up this Dark Sky Reserve was made through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between officials from the IIA, Bengaluru, the Ladakh UT and the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council.

What is a Dark Sky Reserve?

● According to the International Dark Sky Association (IDSA) website, these reserves “consist of a core area meeting minimum criteria for sky quality and natural darkness, and a peripheral area that supports dark sky preservation in the core.”

● It has a distinguished nocturnal environment and starry nights that has been developed responsibly to prevent light pollution.

How Does a Site Become a ‘Dark Sky Reserve’?

● Individuals or groups can nominate a site for certification to the International Dark Sky Association (IDSA).

● There are five designated categories, namely International Dark Sky parks, communities, reserves, sanctuaries and Urban Night Sky Places.

● Conditions necessary for designating dark sky place:

○ It is either publicly or privately owned.

○ Is accessible to the public partially or entirely during the year.

○ The land is legally protected for scientific, natural, educational, cultural,

heritage and/or public enjoyment purposes.

○ The core area of the land provides an exceptional dark sky resource

relative to the communities and cities that surround it.

○ The land offers prescribed night sky brightness either for a reserve, park

or sanctuary.

Who is Developing India’s first Dark Sky Reserve?

● The formal decision to set up this Dark Sky Reserve was made through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between officials from the IIA, Bengaluru, the Ladakh UT and the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council.

● The Ladakh Union Territory administration is leading the efforts in establishing the country’s first Dark Sky Reserve.

● To be situated at a height of 4,500 metres above sea level, the Hanle Dark Sky Reserve (HDSR) will come up within the Changthang Wildlife Sanctuary.

Additional Information

● Changthang Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the Ladakhi Changthang plateau in the Leh district of Jammu and Kashmir.

● One of the most iconic features of the sanctuary is the lake known as Tso Moriri (Mountain Lake), Pangong Tso and Tso Kar.

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Why was Ladakh Chosen for the Project?

● Ladakh is a unique cold desert located about 3,000 metres above sea level with high mountainous terrains.

● Aridity, limited vegetation, high elevation, large areas with sparse populations, no light pollution, and clear skies on cloudless nights; are the conditions suitable for long-term astronomical observatories and dark sky places.

Will this Help Boost Tourism in Ladakh?

● IIA’s scientists and outreach experts will identify locals and train for basic skygazing, identification of constellations, and locating the pole star, etc.

● These telescopes will be installed at the homestays, which is a popular option for tourist accommodation in Ladakh.

News source – https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/explained-sci-tech/ladakh-dark-sky-reserve-to-promote-astronomy-tourism-8132171/

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