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The Plateau first Dark Sky Park in Italy?

Published 10 Sep 2019 - 16.02
Dark sky Park ad Asiago

Asiago is the leader of the European project "Skyscape". Incoming 976,000 euros for the enhancement and development of the project's partner territories

  •      Giornale l'Altopiano 7 settembre 2019
  • The article is taken from the 15th l'Altopiano issue on Saturday, September 7, 2019, which can be purchased at all newsagents in the Plateau.
  • Press the button for other articles in the Journal L'Altopiano and more information.

The City of Asiago, last January, participated in the 3rd Call of the European Interreg Italy-Austria Funding Program with the project "Skyscape - Astronomical tourism: the beauty of the sky as a resource for territories".
Interreg Italy-Austria promotes balanced and sustainable development and harmonious integration of territories located in the border area between Italy andAustria through research cooperation projects & innovation and nature-culture. In January the last call for the 2014-2020 Programming expired, so a unique opportunity to try to obtain resources for the enhancement of the territory and its promotion.
The money advanced by the calls of the past few years was not very much and therefore, in order to be at the top of the rankings, it was necessary to focus on an innovative project, which touched on many issues and could be considered strategic, by the European Commissioners, for the development of the participating Alpine and sub-Alpine territories. The Skyscapeproject, conceived and written by European Programming professional David Sterchele,came fourth in the final ranking and will therefore be fully funded by EDF funds and national funds .

"Agreat result for our City ," says Mayor Roberto Rigoni Stern, "as 76 projects have been submitted, some of which are supported by municipalities and cities much larger than Asiago, as well as by provinces, regions and others territorial realities."

Skyscape,100% funded for 976,000.00 euros,links the issue of energy saving and then replacement of public and private lighting, to theobservation of the sky as a tourist product from develop in rural areas. In the Alpine and sub-alpine territory there are particular areas where the level of light pollution is lower than in other industrialized areas or adjacent to cities, and the Plateau is one of them. With the progression of light pollution in the areas surrounding the cities, in fact, the possibility of making observations of the sky,interesting even at the level of research, is relegated to rural areas that can then transform scarcity infrastructure in an attractiveness that can be enhanced. Activities that can be inserted into a continuous astronomical vocation range from the most specialized, such as that of astronomers and astronomers,to the most recreational as tourists who for the first time approach a telescope to observe the Milky Way within a holiday in contact with nature.

The night sky as an opportunity to promote the territory is recognized in several countries of the globe while in Europe it is still little known.
We talk about astro-tourism as an emerging trend with trips related to astronomical events and to the destinations best known for thefast-growing celestial observations.

The tourist of the last decade, having a greater environmental awareness,is increasingly looking for genuine and authentic experiences that become for him a strong motivation to travel. The partner territories, promoting innovative approaches for scientific, natural and sustainable tourism and a variety of recreational and cultural activities, could enjoy the presence of tourists attracted by the quality of the night sky throughout year, with the aim of greater spatial distribution and seasonalization.
"Presenting yourself on theworld market as an optimal and well-equipped location for the observation and study of the sky, could lead to competitive advantages for destinations that are opposed to urban areas" - argues the Councillor Tourism Nicola Lobbia.

As the leading partner, the City of Asiago has involved other companies from the province of Bolzano, Udine and Tyrol in the project. The project has also taken shape thanks to the support of these partners,who already have important experience in the field of energy efficiency and in the tourist product linked to the observations of the sky. Suffice it to say that the accommodation facilities of these destinations already have themed rooms and areas equipped to carry out observations of the sky, organize events and initiatives in collaboration with the Astrophysical Observers and with the astrophysical groups of the associations of tour guides and escorts.
The collaboration with theAstrophysical Observatory and University of Padua,and in particular with Dr. Paolo Ochner,was found to be fundamental during the writing of the project and will continue during the realization of the various Actions.

The project, which will start in the coming months and will last for 2 years,includes a series of public awareness activities,in collaboration with local authorities and operators, on the issue of energy saving and reducing light pollution and sharing ecosystem conservation measures between partners, environmental protection and efficient and sustainable use of natural and cultural riches. Courses and training days for economic operatorswill also be financed, the purchase ofequipment to be installed in some areas of the territory to make observations and the organization of cultural eventsand initiatives "It's a great opportunity for us to be able to see the world market as an optimal location for the observation and study of the sky," he said. And still participation in tourist fairs,organization of educational tours, publications in the national and international press.
"Oneof the most ambitious goals," says Nicola Lobbia, "is to get the official recognition of "Dark Sky Park" from the IDA (International Dark Sky Association), which would mean joining a circle a small number of high-quality areas with an exceptional quality night environment and a high number of dark and unpolluted starry nights." Sharing this process between different countries would facilitate recognition by bringing significant cultural, media and promotional value at national and international level.
There are only about 30 Dark Sky Parks in Europe, and there are only about 30 Dark Sky Parks in Europe in Germany, Spain, Hungary, the Netherlands and England,but at the moment there are no dark Sky Parks in Italy. South Tyrol has been trying to gain this important recognition for some years now.

Silvana Bortoli

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