From 18th to 21st April the international multidisciplinary conference "Preserving the Skies", organized to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Starlight Declaration, will be celebrated on La Palma. The celebration will also include numerous activities in the island, for the general public, in order to remember the need to protect the night sky and the right to observe the stars
Dark skies and the stars will be the main actors on La Palma in just a few days. In order to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Starlight Declaration of La Palma, which is designed for their protection and conservation, the Island will welcome the international conference "Preserving the Skies: 10th Anniversary of the Starlight Declaration" whose presidency of honour is His Majesty King Felipe VI, even though he will not be able to attend as he has previous engagements.
Organized by the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC), the Cabildo of La Palma, and the Starlight Foundation, the conference will be the outstanding event of a programme of activities which will bring together profesionals of a variety of disciplines to discuss the protection of the sky from different specialities: light pollution, environemnt and biodiversity, sustainable astronomical tourism, new technologies, and intelligent illuminatin of urban areas. It is patronised by the United Nations organization for Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO), the UN World Tourist Organization (UNWT0), the International Astronomical Union (IAU), the Cabildo of La Palma, the Government of the Canaries, the La Palma Reserve of the Biosphere, STARS4ALL, the University of La Laguna (ULL) and the Starlight Foundation itself, created to manage the principles and values of the Declaration, as well as the IAC.
The acts programmed to celebrate this anniversary will begin on Tuesday 18th April at 18:30 with the inauguration of the Starlight Exhibition in the Casa Salazar, and the welcome reception for the conference.The following day the conference will begin officially with the inaugural lecture, moderated by Francisco Sanchez, Founding Director of the IAC, followed by lectures on a variety of subjects, working groups, and panel discussions which will take place during the rest of the week. The final day, April 21st, will be dedicated to the final conclusions from the meeting, as well as the establishement of a number of working groups which will produce a text to strengthen the message of the Starlight Declaration of 2007.
Sky quality in the schoolroom
On the same day the results will be presented of an activity in which the sky brightness was measured at four schools on La Palma with the aim of introducing the students to the field of scientific research. They will measure the sky brightness using three different methods, and will then compare their data with those provided by the IAC. With this initiative, which is part of the European STARS4ALL project to raise the conscience of European society about the need for dark skies, the idea is to interest the young people on La Palma, and its society in general about the effects of light pollution and its repercussions for astronomy and for the environment. These studies will be presented on April 21st at the Circo de Marte Theatre, before the conference is brought to a close.
Apart from the lectures planned for the conference, many activities have been organized, aimed at the general public on La Palma, to celebrate the anniversary. Among these, on Wednesday 19th at 19.00 the Director of the Gran Telescopio CANARIAS (GTC), Romano Corradi, will give a lecture entitled " Fireflies, Stars, and City Lights" at the Circo de Marte theatre. The following day, between 22.00 and 23.00 there will be the first of the blackouts on the island in order to help with astronomical activities. On this occasion the lights of Santa Cruz de La Palma will be turned off, and on 21st at the same time other municipalities will join this initiative which will also include musical acts. Other activities planned for the week will include exhibitions, outreach activities with puppets, photographic meetings, a competition for children, meetings on astro-tourism, and of the mayors of La Palma, astronomical workshops and cinema showings of films about the universe, as well as g-astronomical menus.