Passion of the People – 1.6.7

 Case Studies, Good Practices and Analysis for Star Tourism

Before starting to work in a specific field, it is important to look around and understand what others have created before us, both nearby and in distant territories.

Inspiration and adaptation are key words to start a new tourist offer.

There are different lists or certifications for dark skies destinations as the one proposed by the International Dark-Skies Association.

Normally, areas with less human presence, such as parks, mountain or desert areas, are the most interesting places for the dark skies’ observation. However, urbanised areas can also aspire to become sky observation zones.

Following some inspiring good practices:

Northumberland Park

Northumberland Park is considered one of the best places in the UK to observe the stars. The park’s website has a section dedicated to observing the dark skies, guiding tourists to find astronomical observatories, special pavilions designed in collaboration with Newcastle University of Architecture, advice on places to go and places to stay.

Into the Night in the Kaunertal Valley

In the Kaunertal Valley (Tyrol, Austria) high quality of the nightsky can be observed and experienced.  The Tyrolean Environmental Ombudsoffice initiated guided stargazing tours are offered in the mesmerizing scenery of the Alps during late summer months. Over the past years, self-guided options were developed so that visitors can fully appreciate the nature at night and nightsky. A “Stargazing bowl” was designed and constructed in the area, allowing to physically merge with the ground and materials from the area and dwell in the endless universe. An exhibition pavilion, located at the highest point of the Kaunertal Glacier Road, features a unique room-within-a-room concept that teaches visitors about the inestimable value of the natural night and describes the impact of artificial light at night. Efforts to persue recognition by International Dark Sky are still ongoing. The developments and implementations were funded by Interreg Italien-Österreich 2014-2020 (Futourist and Skyscape). 

Rhön Star Park

The UNESCO Rhön Biosphere Reserve in the border triangle of Bavaria, Hesse and Thuringia was recognized as an international star park by the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) in August 2014. With the award, the region has set itself the task of reducing light pollution. The aim is to preserve the natural night landscape and reduce light pollution through more environmentally friendly and optimised lighting. The municipalities that have decided to participate in the star park are implementing targeted measures to this end. In an already sparsely populated region, over the years, improvements have been made to the street lighting to make it less impactful.

Astrotourism in Andalusia 

Starlight Foundation, promoted by the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, created in 2014 a package of experiences promoting stargazing Sierra Morena and Sierra Sur de Jaén, in cooperation with 67 Andalusian municipalities. 

The first objective is to guarantee the quality of the night sky of the territories for the practice of astronomy and stargazing in optimal conditions and the effort to develop experiences related to stargazing and promoting responsible tourism which preserves the environmental conditions and natural light in these distinguished areas. 

In addition, the foundation is also active in promoting high-quality accommodation that are active in defending dark skies and stargazing and in the promotion of events to raise awareness and promoting the values of dark skies. 

Astrotourism in Cities Is Possible? 

Although, as we have said before, the best places to do astrotourism are those furthest away from the cities, something can also be done in built-up areas. City parks and open spaces surrounded by urban centres can themselves be discrete stargazing sites. But what if there are no spaces big enough? Some Italian cities of art (Padua, Florence, Palermo), for example, have promoted touristic books for visiting historical monuments related to astronomy, a good opportunity to see the impact that dark skies have had on human culture and to dream of the stars even in the city.

Humans and Stars – Image by Thirdman – Pexels
Nocturnal landscape – Image by marco allasio – Pexels
Feeling the nature – Image by nico_61Pixabay
Nightsky – Image by Rachel Claire – Pexels

Further resources

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Apolónia Rodrigues interview: Dark Sky Alqueva

Settimana dello Spazio di Osimo 2020 – Cultura scientifica per un nuovo Rinascimento

Dark Sky Tourism in Northumberland and Around the World

Astrotourism Workshop

Biosphärenreservat Rhön

Sternennächte erwandern im Kaunertal

Online Resources

 Astrotourism in Andalusia

Astrotourism – The Best Places and Experiences for Stargazing

Roadmap for Astrotourism in Chile

Northumberland’s Dark Sky Park

Go Stargazing in Northumberland

Northumberland International Dark Sky Park

Night Sky Planner

Podcast Biosphäre Rhön

App “Biosphärenreservat Rhön”

L’isola gallese dai cieli più bui d’Europa – Claudia Mignone, MEDIA INAF

I migliori punti di osservazione delle stelle e le attività nelle Riserve del Cielo Scuro in Gran Bretagna – Visit Britain Media Centre

I parchi del buio, dove andare a vedere le stelle – Luigi Bignami, Avvenire

Astroturismo – “Palermo. Seconda stella a destra” – ASTRONOMIA PER TUTTI, INAF OAPa

La mappa dei luoghi migliori per osservare le stelle – Luca Nardi, WIRED

Parco Nazionale del Northumberland, il più settentrionale tra i Parchi Nazionali d’Inghilterra – PiùTurismo

Valle Kaunertal –

Le migliori mete della Spagna per contemplare le stelle –

Astroturismo in Andalusia – Andaluciamia

A zonzo per Firenze con la guida astroturistica – Sara Ricciardi, MEDIA INAF

Further Readings

Astrotourism – INAF Osservatorio Astrofisico di Arcetri

Tourists’ Preferences for Stargazing Land Resources

Teaching Materials

For Kids