The Sky (Starlight Reserve)

La Palma possesses certain unique environmental features which have won it the distinction of being named a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. More than one third of its surface area is protected land, the highlight of which is the Caldera de Taburiente National Park. Its landscape is the result of a dramatic formation process that took millions of years, and houses a multitude of microclimates and surprisingly contrasting vegetation. At its highest point, over 2400m above sea level, the Roque de Los Muchachos Observatory rises above the “sea of clouds” where the atmosphere is clear and stable thanks to the Atlantic Ocean. Consequently, this is considered one of the best places on earth to observe the sky. A law was passed to protect this quality, and La Palma, in addition to being the world’s first Starlight Reserve, was acknowledged in 2012 as a Starlight Tourist Destination; this guarantees the possibility of enjoyable star-gazing while learning something of the associated scientific, cultural, natural and environmental values. On 20 April 2007, La Palma hosted the signing of the Declaration in Defence of the Night Sky and the Right to Starlight (La Palma Starlight Declaration).

An unpolluted night sky that allows the enjoyment and contemplation of the firmament should be considered an inalienable right equivalent to all other socio-cultural and environmental rights ...

The Sky Law

La Palma was one of the first places in the world to apply the Sky Law: in 1988 a specific law was passed designed to protect the quality of the night sky for the purpose of astrophysical observation, which was a giant step forward in defence of the sky on a world-wide scale. This law protects La Palma from light, atmospheric and radioelectrical pollution, as well as preventing interference from aviation routes.

Study of measuring light pollution made by Antonio González (Cielos-LaPalma.com) for the Cabildo Insular de La Palma (The Island’s government) at viewpoints and places of astronomical interest. Measurements made by SQM (Sky Quality Meter). The study period was from March to April 2013. The Visual Magnitude Limit of a person with standard vision, in a dark place, is 6, which is an indication of good sky quality. If it is less, this is due to light pollution. However the Sky Quality Meter (SQM) provides a logarithmic scale of magnitude values per squared arcsec. It gives values ranging from 16 to 22, the latter being the maximum for dark skies free of light pollution.

Study of measuring light pollution

View the map of the study

VISIT THE OBSERVATORY

The Roque de los Muchachos Observatory is open to visitors.
Take this chance and enjoy the stars from one of the most privileged sites on the planet for astronomic observations.

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