India’s first-ever ‘night sky sanctuary’ will be set up within the next three months in Hanle, Ladakh, Union Minister of Science and Technology, Jitendra Singh, said Saturday.
This is a unique and first-of-its-kind initiative by the Indian government. The proposed dark sky reserve will be located at Hanle, Ladakh, and will boost astro-tourism in India, according to a statement released by the Union Ministry of Science and Technology.
The night sky sanctuary will be set up as part of the Changthang Wildlife Sanctuary, the world’s second-largest nature reserve. The new project will be one of the world’s highest-located sites for optical, infrared, and gamma-ray telescopes.
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Why Was Hanle Chosen As The Location For The Night Sky Reserve?
On September 3, Jitendra Singh informed the Lieutenant Governor of Ladakh, Radha Krishna Mathur, that a tripartite (involving three parties) Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was recently signed among the Union Territory administration, Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC), Leh, and the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) for launching the Dark Space Reserve. Singh said that the night sky sanctuary will have activities to help boost local tourism and the economy through interventions of science and technology.
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Singh added that all the stakeholders will jointly work towards the preservation of the night sky from unwanted light pollution and illumination. These are serious threats to scientific observations and natural sky conditions.
Since Hanle is located in Ladakh’s cold desert region, away from any form of human disturbance, and has clear sky and dry weather conditions throughout the year, it is best suited for the dark sky reserve, the minister stated.
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