Getaways Magazine

Astrotourism – A journey to the stars

The relationship between humans and the skies has developed since the dawn of mankind and is present in of all the world’s civilisations. This natural and cultural heritage is so significant that UNESCO has recognised dark skies as an implicit right to be preserved. Unfortunately, light pollution from cities is destroying the treasures the sky has to offer.
Contemplating the sky is gaining in popularity and, together with mountainous landscapes and beautiful beaches, the skies are fast becoming an extraordinary tourist attraction.
This new trend of observing the night skies and learning about astronomy has paved the way to astrotourism, a new environmentally sustainable leisure activity which requires areas where light pollution is reduced to a minimum.
The region of Albanyà has a very low population density and a vast mass of woodland which creates a natural defence against light entry, thus forming a natural oasis of darkness in the heart of the Emporda.
The Albanyà Astronomical Observatory, which has the latest stargazing equipment, including Girona’s biggest telescope, is mainly aimed at educating schools and the general public in astronomy.
Thanks to its success, in July 2017, the International Dark Sky Association (IDA) officially recognised Albanyà as the first Dark Sky Park in the Spanish state. The IDA is an international non-profit organisation based in the US and recognised as a world authority for the protection of the night sky.
This recognition adds to the Starlight camping seal awarded to Albanyà’s Bassegoda Park, and makes this region the first to be recognised by the world’s two largest night sky preservation foundations.
The quality of the night sky in Albanyà, therefore, is a natural heritage that needs to be preserved and opened to the world through the promotion of astrotourism. In this regard, the Albanyà Astronomical Observatory has the ideal technology and facilities, as well as renowned professionals, such as its director, Pere Guerra, and chairman and astrophotographer, Juan Carlos Casado.
The observatory has recently begun offering a show that fuses science and entertainment, arising from a collaboration with composer Pep Sala. Besides watching live videos of the night sky projected from the telescope onto a large screen, visitors can now enjoy a tailor-made soundtrack to complete their experience.
Since it was opened six months ago, the Albanyà Astronomical Observatory has received more than 4,000 visits from all around Catalonia.

OBSERVATORI ASTRONÒMIC ALBANYÀ
(Camping Bassegoda Park)
Camí de Bassegoda s/n
Albanyà
Tel. 972 542 020
www.observatorialbanya.com

 

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