Night sky above Stewart Island/Rakiura – Set to Turn Heads Around the Globe

Feb 21, 2019
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A glittering jewel – the night sky above Stewart Island/Rakiura – is set to turn heads around the globe.

Opinion piece by Gary Tong.

Earning official status as an International Dark Sky Sanctuary in January from the International Dark Sky Association (IDA) has opened up a world of possibility and potential.

Early indications from the community – both on the island and the wider district – have been extremely positive.

The fact the island is just the fifth Dark Sky Sanctuary – and only the second island sanctuary – in the world is another feather in Southland’s cap. You can bet stargazers will be adding this rare treasure to their must-see list.

Sadly, access to the night sky is becoming increasingly scarce on this planet so we need to appreciate what’s right here on our doorstep. Often the things that take our visitors’ breath away are the very things we take for granted.

My partner Sharon recalls a stargazing experience in the desert near Dubai where those around her were blown away looking up at a cluster of about 30 stars. In contrast, we just have to stand in our own backyard on a clear night to witness something truly extraordinary.

A truly collaborative approach from a variety of stakeholders is making the Dark Skies project happen and, in particular, I’m delighted people on the island are excited about the potential.

We need to find the right balance to ensure we protect the island’s unique environment whilst embracing visitor opportunities – and work through the steps to achieving this as a community.

So, take the time to stop and look up every now and again. It’s amazing what you’ll discover.

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