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Ireland gets first Dark Sky Reserve

Ireland gets first Dark Sky Reserve
3 Feb 2014

There's likely to be a surge in the number of stargazers booking flights to Ireland after the country's first Dark Sky Reserve was created. 

Kerry International Dark Sky Reserve is also the first of its kind in the northern hemisphere to be awarded 'Gold' status by the International Dark Sky Association (IDSA), which administers the scheme to help protect world-class stargazing conditions around the world. 

To be eligible for 'Gold' recognition, viewers must be able to see the full array of visible sky phenomena, such as the aurora, airglow, Milky Way, zodiacal light, and faint meteors. 

Officials are now hoping that Kerry, situated along the Atlantic coast of Ireland, will become a mecca for astronomers. 

'This is a major step forward in introducing new tourism to our area and we will make every effort to provide an example of what a true dark-sky area looks like,' commented Russell Jackson of the Ballinskelligs Tourism Group. 

If you'd like to see the Milky Way in all its glory, here are some other great stargazing destinations to head to:

New Zealand

New Zealand's South Island is home to the 1,600 sq m Aoraki Mackenzie Dark Sky Reserve, the world's largest. Established with Gold-tier status in 2012, the reserve consists of the Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park and the Mackenzie Basin. 

Namibia

The NamibRand Nature Reserve is one of Africa's largest private nature reserves. As well as working to protect the resident wildlife, it has won recognition from the IDSA for its efforts to protect the 'Gold' standard of its night skies. 

France

As well as being a top skiing location, France can now consider itself a first-class stargazing destination after the Pic du Midi International Dark Sky Reserve was created last year. The second largest in the world, this 'Silver' level reserve includes the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Pyrenees-Mont Perdu and the Pyrenees National Park. 

There are two other Dark Sky Reserves in Exmoor and the Brecon Beacons in the UK. ADNFCR-408-ID-801689280-ADNFCR

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