India’s first night sky sanctuary will be established in Ladakh in a bid to boost Astro tourism in the country and attract foreign researchers to work with high-altitude telescopes in the region. The Department of Science and Technology will set up the proposed Dark Sky Reserve at Ladakh’s Hanle as part of the Changthang Wildlife Sanctuary.
The facility will be one of the world’s highest-located sites for optical, infrared, and gamma-ray telescopes. The announcement came following a meeting between Science & Technology minister Dr. Jitendra Singh and Lt. Governor Ladakh RK Mathur.
A tripartite MoU was signed recently between the Union Territory Administration, Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) Leh, and the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) for launching the Dark Space Reserve. The facility will also have activities aimed at boosting local tourism and the economy.
“All the stakeholders will jointly work towards the preservation of the night sky from unwanted light pollution and illumination, which is a serious threat to scientific observations and natural sky conditions,” Dr. Jitendra Singh said.
Hanle is located in Ladakh’s cold desert region, away from any form of human disturbance with clear sky conditions and dry weather conditions that exist throughout the year.
With the announcement, a high-level delegation of scientists and officials from Central Leather Research Institute, Chennai will visit Ladakh by the end of this year to explore the possibility of setting up a regional branch of CLRI, as the UT has a very rich and wide variety of animals for leather research and the industry and to promote bio-economy of animal skin-derived products.
The minister further said that Charthang in Ladakh has over 4 lakh animals, mainly pashmina goats, besides sheep and yaks. Meanwhile, he also complimented the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research for organising four training workshops, two each at Leh and Kargil for the treatment of diseases of famous Pashmina Goats.