South East Asia’s first Night Sky Sanctuary/Dark Sky Reserve would soon become operational in Hanle, Ladakh. This was announced by the Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Science & Technology, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh, at the Ladakh Pride exhibition organised in New Delhi. He also said that his ministry would request Prime Minister Narendra Modi to inaugurate the Night Sky Reserve at Hanle.
The Ladakh Pride exhibition was organised by the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) Leh at the initiative of Chief Executive Councillor (CEC) Tashi Gyalson to mark the fourth anniversary of the establishment of the Union Territory of Ladakh.
The exhibition showcases GI-tagged products of Ladakh, including Seabuckthorn, Raktsey Karpoapricots, Ladakh wood carvings and Pashmina wool.
The Dark Sky Reserve is being set up at Hanle village in Eastern Ladakh as a part of Changthang Wildlife Sanctuary. The Dark Sky Reserve will host a number of optical, infrared, and gamma-ray telescopes.
It is expected to boost Astro-tourism and hold the local economy. It aims to spread awareness about astronomy and boost scientific research with reduced artificial light and wildlife conservation.
It is being set up by the Bengaluru-based Indian Institute of Astrophysics in collaboration with the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, Leh and the Union Territory of Ladakh.
The Dark Sky Reserve is spread over 1,073 square kilometres in the Changthang Wildlife Sanctuary.
It is adjacent to the Indian Astronomical Observatory, the second-highest optical telescope in the world, of the Indian Institute of Astrophysics at Hanle is at an elevation of 4500 metres.
The World’s highest astronomical observatory is the University of Tokyo Atacama Observatory. It is located at an altitude of 5,640 m on the summit of Cerro Chajnantor in a scientific reserve called Atacama Astronomical Park, Chile.
Dark Sky Reserve is an area which has minimum or no light pollution. Light pollution refers to the excess amount of artificial light at night, which endangers the ecosystem by harming the animals whose lives depend on the dark. It also creates inconvenience for astronomers as they are unable to view celestial objects like stars, planets, etc. due to excessive amounts of light at night.
The Dark Sky Reserve is a place that tries to minimise light pollution and create natural conditions that are free from light pollution.
The Indian Institute of Astrophysics was set up in its current form in 1971 as an autonomous institute to conduct research in Astronomy, Astrophysics, and allied areas of Physics.
The institute is funded by the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India.
The main campus is located in Koramangala, in the south-eastern part of the city of Bengaluru.
It has field stations at Kodaikanal, Kavalur, Gauribidanur, Hanle and Hosakote.
Ladakh became a Union Territory on the 31st of October 2019.
The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act 2019 converted the state of Jammu and Kashmir into a Union Territory and the Union Territory of Ladakh was separated from it.
Leh is the capital of Ladakh.
It is administered by a Lieutenant Governor.
The first Lieutenant Governor was R.K.Mathur.
Present Lieutenant Governor : Brig (Retd) B.D. Mishra