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China plans night-sky conservation zone in Tibet

Last Updated: Thursday, July 24, 2014 - 19:38

Beijing: China plans to have a 2,500-square-km plateau in Tibet formally recognised for its unobstructed view of stars and celestial bodies in the night sky.

Ngari Prefecture tourist bureau in Tibet told state-run Xinhua news agency today that it has applied to join the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), a global organisation that campaigns against light pollution, in order to build a conservation zone in line with international standards.

The IDA has acknowledged 16 "Dark Sky Parks" or public spaces deemed to have exceptional starry skies with mitigated light pollution.
If the application of Ngari is successful, it will become the first such park in Asia, said Wang Xiaohua of the IDA`s China branch.

Ngari prefecture borders Himachal Pradesh.

According to Wang, Ngari has ideal natural conditions for astronomical observation, being located on the underpopulated Qinghai-Tibet Plateau with limited vapours and high air transparency.
The Beijing Observatory has donated six powerful astronomical telescopes and other observation devices to the planned Ngari Night-Sky Conservation Zone, which has also received 5 million yuan (USD 800,000) of government funding for construction of an observatory.
Scientists with the International Astronomical Union selected Ngari last year as a site for building a world-class observatory.

Once completed, the observatory, perched at an altitude of 5,100 metres above sea level, will be open to cooperative projects among Asian astronomers.

First Published: Thursday, July 24, 2014 - 19:38
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