Rediscovering the landscapes of the starry sky
The Starlight initiative and the final Declaration adopted at the end of the Conference represent a call to common sense and reason, for an alliance of intelligence; why not be more reasonable and sparing as regards our lighting, not to darken the world but quite the opposite: to light up the thousand and one candles of our night sky.
Rediscovering and recognising the richness of this common heritage which has inspired poets, painters and musicians down the ages; offering young people and future generations the ability to gaze in wonderment at the firmament, a truly celestial night landscape; allowing scientists to pursue scientific research that is essential for the future of humanity: these are some of the major objectives that should guide the actions of the international community.
This would certainly be in the general interest, from the perspective of human health, the health of animal and plant species and our ecosystems; from the emotional, visual and artistic point of view; for our knowledge and understanding, and in terms of energy also. Does our abuse and overuse of lighting not add to global warming? Capturing the stars in our minds, admiring the light of the sky, unravelling its meaning and value: such are the challenges that lie ahead. Humankind will certainly be elevated if it raises its eyes skywards".
MAGUELONNE DÉJEANT-PONS. Head, Cultural Heritage, Landscape and Spatial Planning Division Council of Europe. (Starlight Conference 2007)
A night starry sky can be considered one the most awesome naturalshows we can nowadays observe. Landscapes related to the night sky canfeature incredibly different displays, where “landscape” denotes an area,as perceived by people, whose character is the result of the action andinteraction of natural and/or human factors.
The light of stars and otherheavenly bodies has always enriched terrestrial nature’s display as wellas human habitat, creating reference landscapes traditionally perceivedby people as an integral part of their natural and cultural heritage. Nevertheless,the skyscape nocturnal dimension, in spiteof its diversity and magnificence, is still the mosthidden aspect of the landscape.We must immediately value and preserve thoseareas where natural light still prevails - those placesand environments characterized by the naturalrhythm of the Sun and Moon cycles, clean air, anddark nights unperturbed by artificial light. These naturalnightscapes, often associated with some kind ofprotected area, or left aside from intensive humanoccupation, should be considered as a resource ofunaccountable experiences and perceptions of naturalnocturnal landscapes.Nightscapes can be very diverse, starry landscapesrelated to rural areas, urban oases, or sites associatedwith astronomical heritage, all of which areworthy of special attention because of their increasingdeterioration rate.