ann19065 — Announcement

Church of the Good Shepherd on the shores of Lake Tekapo
12 November 2019
Connecting Dark Sky Communities in New Zealand and Worldwide

At the end of October 2019 the New Zealand Starlight Conference took place in Tekapo. Endorsed by the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), the independently organised meeting invited all people concerned about the preservation of dark skies to participate, and addressed the many and varied impacts of light pollution.

The central theme was the concept of New Zealand as the “World’s First Dark Sky Nation”, bringing together many groups in the country that have or hope soon to have dark sky accreditation. A traditional Maori welcoming ceremony opened the conference, and the final event was a workshop for those communities working towards dark sky accreditation. There were also tours of the nearby Mt John Observatory of the University of Canterbury.

Speakers from diverse backgrounds gave over 50 talks, with topics ranging from human health and environmental and wildlife concerns to stargazing and cultural heritage. One talk was dedicated to the latest research into the effects of blue emissions from LED streetlights. The historical importance of dark skies as navigation and timekeeping tools was also touched upon, as well as the pure aesthetics of unpolluted night skies.

This event comes at a critical time for the issue of dark sky preservation, as increasingly abundant technology interferes with dark skies both from the ground and from space. Interdisciplinary cooperation, as highlighted by the diversity of speakers at the conference, is key to finding ways of pursuing development without losing this invaluable asset.

The IAU, among many astronomical organisations, is working to address this issue, and has an Executive Committee Working Group for Dark and Quiet Sky Protection. Events like this serve to connect and empower the worldwide community of people and organisations committed to protecting dark skies for the benefit of humanity and the environment.

More information

The IAU is the international astronomical organisation that brings together more than 13 500 professional astronomers from more than 100 countries worldwide. Its mission is to promote and safeguard astronomy in all its aspects, including research, communication, education and development, through international cooperation. The IAU also serves as the internationally recognised authority for assigning designations to celestial bodies and the surface features on them. Founded in 1919, the IAU is the world's largest professional body for astronomers.


Lars Lindberg Christensen
IAU Press Officer
Cell: +49 173 38 72 621

About the Announcement



Church of the Good Shepherd on the shores of Lake Tekapo