Dark Sky Sanctuary
- October 8, 2022
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN Topics
Dark Sky Sanctuary
Subject: Science and Technology
- Dark Sky Sanctuary has an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and a nocturnal environment that is protected for its scientific, natural, or educational value, its cultural heritage and/or public enjoyment.
- A sanctuary differs from a Dark Sky Park or Reserve in that it is typically situated in a very remote location with few (if any) nearby threats to the quality of its dark night skies and it does not otherwise meet the requirements for designation as a park or reserve. The typical geographic isolation of Dark Sky Sanctuaries significantly limits opportunities for public outreach, so a sanctuary designation is specifically designed to increase awareness of these fragile sites and promote their long-term conservation.
- The Department of Science & Technology (DST), Govt of India, has undertaken to set up India’s first-ever “Night Sky Sanctuary” in Ladakh which will be completed within next three months.
- The proposed Dark Sky Reserve will be located at Hanle in Ladakh as a part of Changthang Wildlife Sanctuary. It will boost Astro tourism in India and will be one of the world’s highest-located sites for optical, infra-red, and gamma-ray telescopes.
- This entire setup, laid out on the mountain calledDigpaRatsa Ri, aka Mt Saraswati, comprises the Indian Astronomical Observatory (IAO).
- A tripartite MoU was signed recently among the the UT administration, Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) Leh and the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) for launching the Dark Space Reserve.
- The multicoloured dish is the Major Atmospheric Cherenkov Experiment Telescope (MACE) built by a consortium of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, the Electronics Corporation of India Ltd. and the IIA.
- The dish, with a diameter of 21 m, is the second largest of its kind in the world and the only one at such an elevation.
- Its goal is to detect Cherenkov radiation from space.
- The seven-telescope contingent, called HAGAR (High Altitude Gamma Ray), also looks at Cherenkov radiation, although at a lower range of energies.
- The metallic capsule, the highest of the observatories, is the Himalayan Chandra Telescope (HCT), the oldest and active since 2000.
- An optical infrared telescope with a 2-metre lens is designed to detect light from the visible range of the electromagnetic spectrum as well as that just below it, or the infrared spectrum. The second capsule, situated slightly lower than the HCT, is the GROWTH India telescope, a 70cm telescope made by IIA and the Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai that is equipped to track cosmic events that unfurl over time, such as after glows of a gamma ray burst or tracking the path of asteroids.
- The IAO telescopes can be controlled remotely via a satellite link.
- Being a cold desert region, Ladakh holds great potential for undertaking uninterrupted astronomical observations.
- Dry weather and clear sky conditions prevail during most months of the year, making Hanlea naturally perfect setup for sky gazing and setting up astronomical observatories.
- At a height of 4,500 metres, Hanle is already home to an optical, a gamma ray and an infrared telescope at the Indian Astronomical Observatory complex operated by the IIA. These telescopes have been used to study stars, galaxies, exoplanets and the evolution of our Universe.