A reserve of dark sky of the Oukaimeden observatory in Morocco

The Africa Initiative for Planetary and Space Science is a partner of the project of a dark sky reserve for the limiting light pollution in the region of the Oukaimeden observatory.

The project, led by Prof. Zouhair Benkhaldoun, and entitled “The International Research of dark sky of the National Park of the Toubkal (Atlas Dark Sky) has now been pre-selected to the call “for Socially Responsible projects” of the University Cadi Ayyad. The final proposal shall be submitted by the end of the year (31/12/2017).

The organization of the COP22 in Marrakech has been influential on the elaboration of scientific projects which are socially responsible. The Observatory of Oukaimeden, in Morocco, and his partners, had contributed to this event with the 17th edition of a festival about light pollution.

The concerns about light pollution is part of sustainable development, and of its different aspects : economic, touristic, and environmental. Artificial light has advantages but is also a source of environmental issues for ecosystems.

The Reserve “Atlas Dark Sky » has the objective to register the region of the Oukaimeden observatory to the International Dark Sky Association (IDA) as a reserve of dark sky to protect it from expanding and growing intensity of light pollution. The observatory is now the host of 5 domes and several intruments for the monitoring of the sky of Oukaimeden. The future of the Oukaimeden observatory is dependent to a large extent on the quality of the night sky, which has attracted several international collaborations in astronomy and planetary sciences.

It is therefore important to protect one the rare profesional infrastructures for observational astronomy on the African continent. One aspect of this protection is limiting light pollution in the region of Oukaidemen.

David Baratoux, 29/09/2017

Header image: Light pollution in Morocco. Source: http://darksitefinder.com/maps/world.html

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