Stargaz­ing in Kerry is out of this world

The Kerryman (South Kerry Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - By TADHG EVANS

SOUTH Kerry and its world-renowned Dark Sky Re­serve have earned fur­ther global recog­ni­tion from a pres­ti­gious in­ter­na­tional travel site that ear­marked Kerry as one of the top 10 stargaz­ing sites on earth.

The Kerry In­ter­na­tional Dark Sky Re­serve – a 700-square-kilo­me­tre zone cov­er­ing a swathe of the Iver­agh Penin­sula and nearby Valen­tia – is one of just four re­serves in the world to have earned “Gold-tier” sta­tus from the In­ter­na­tional Dark Sky As­so­ci­a­tion, an hon­our be­stowed upon the re­gion in 2014 fol­low­ing ster­ling work spear­headed by Julie Or­monde.

The zone’s lo­ca­tion, be­tween the At­lantic and ar­eas of con­sid­er­able moun­tain­ous ter­rain, means it can avail of nat­u­ral pro­tec­tion from light pol­lu­tion. It has come to be rec­og­nized as some­thing of an as­tronomer’s dream.

Now, travel web­site Rough Guide has tipped its hat to the ex­tra­or­di­nary South Kerry lo­ca­tion, nam­ing it along­side other renowned stargaz­ing des­ti­na­tions such as Tener­ife, the NamibRand Na­ture Re­serve in Namibia, Mauna Kea in Hawaii, Death Val­ley in the USA, the Ata­cama Desert in Chile, Ao­raki Macken­zie in New Zealand, and Pic du Midi in France.

In its piece, the web­site praised Kerry for of­fer­ing sight of “star clus­ters, neb­ula and the An­dromeda Gal­axy”, in “the un­pol­luted skies above the lush Kerry penin­sula”.

“Although its “Dark Sky Re­serve” ti­tle is a 21st-cen­tury ac­qui­si­tion, in­scrip­tions found on the re­gion’s pre­his­toric mon­u­ments sug­gest that its in­hab­i­tants have been ob­serv­ing the plan­ets for thou­sands of years,” it added. “To­day, guides use laser beams and te­le­scopes to fur­ther en­hance visi­tors’ views of the heav­ens.”

The area has hosted a range of stargaz­ing ac­tiv­i­ties, in­clud­ing March’s Messier Marathon when 60 as­tronomers travel to South Kerry to try and spot all 110 plan­ets dis­cov­ered by Charles Messier.

Dessy Cronin of Coise For­bartha na Sceilge wel­comed the news as fur­ther proof of the re­gion’s unique po­ten­tial.

The night skies on the Iver­agh Penin­sula have been listed in a top 10 of the world’s best for stargaz­ing.

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