The Namibrand nature reserve in Namibia has recently become the first international dark sky reserve not only in Africa, but in the developing world.  This award goes beyond just prestige; it plays an important role in the preservation of the night sky and raising awareness of astronomy and the role of the night sky in Namibia’s cultural heritage.

As a part of the classification of this area as a night sky reserve the Namib Desert Environmental Educational Trust Centre was formed to offer educational programmes on the earth and the sky. 

These programmes are open to all Namibians; schoolchildren are their most common guests, but also to visitors from all over the world.  The programme offers overnight accommodation and guests have the option of staying in open air units where they can view the terrific night sky from their beds. 

The Namibrand dark sky reserve is classified as a gold tier reserve, which means that there is little or no impact on the night sky from artificial light, at the time of awarding of gold tier status the Namibrand sky was the darkest yet measured.

It was Dr George Tucker, a retired physics professor from the USA who identified the potential of the Namibrand as a dark sky reserve.  He led the campaign to get the area certified as such and this area is now dedicated to preservation of its night time skies. 

Other international dark sky reserves are the Aoraki Mackenzie in New Zealand and Exmoor National Park in England.

The International Dark Sky Association is the organisation behind this certification and raising awareness about the importance of maintaining dark sky reserves. They work to protect wild life, reduce energy waste and slow the effects of light pollution on the night skies. 

To finish off here is a video of the great science fiction writer, Arthur C Clarke, speaking as a dark sky ambassador.

Tell us about the most incredible night skies you have witnessed, or other areas you believe could be dark sky reserves.

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