Look Below
International Initiative in Defence of the Quality of the Night Sky as Mankind’s Scientific, Cultural and Environmental Heritage

Third International Starlight Conference - 2012

Lake Tekapo, New Zealand - 11,12 and 13 June 2012


whiti mai ngā whetū

10 reasons to defend Starlight

The New Zealand International Starlight conference was held at Lake Tekapo, New Zealand in June 2012.

This conference was recognized by the Starlight Initiative as the third of a series started in 2007 on the island of La Palma with the World Conference in Defence of the Night Sky and the Right to Observe the Stars, where the Starlight Declaration was adopted.

The success of the conference is due to the main organizers: University of Canterbuty and Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand:

Issues were addressed: 

  • the defence of the quality of the night sky, 
  • the right to observe the stars,
  • the heritage of starlight,
  • the issues of light pollution,
  • the protection of observatory sites,
  • the benefits of public outreach in astronomy 
  • the starlight tourism and
  • the cultural aspects of visual astronomy.

The Starlight Conference in New Zealand has been planned in conjunction with a bid we recently submitted to the International Dark-Sky Association for a Dark-Sky Reserve to be recognized in the Mackenzie Basin region around Lake Tekapo, and also in the nearby Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park. A Starlight Reserve for the Mackenzie Basin was also proposed in the recent IAU-ICOMOS Thematic Study. We will discuss the concept, implementation and benefits of Starlight Reserves as a means of protecting the night sky, with the benefits for public outreach and astro-tourism, and for astronomical research.
In addition, several radio astronomers have pointed out that the issues of radio-frequency interference have much in common with issues of light pollution. We will therefore expand the topics under discussion to RFI and the development of radio-astronomy in New Zealand, especially the selection of radio-quiet sites. This is topical as New Zealand may participate with Australia in the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio-astronomy project.
Earlier Starlight meetings were held at La Palma in April 2007 and in Fuerteventura (both in the Canary Islands) in March 2009. The New Zealand meeting tagged new ways in the development of the Starlight Initiative.

Web Site of the Conference




Topics of the conference

  • Role and purpose of a Starlight Reserve
  • Public education and outreach at a Starlight Reserve
  • Starlight Reserves and astro-tourism
  • The Starlight Declaration (2007) and the right to see the stars
  • Light pollution and light pollution controls through lighting ordinances
  • The dark sky park movement, including science-based park management and related visitor experiences
  • Integrating starlight protection with protection for the landscape, ecology and biosphere
  • Radio astronomy and radio frequency interference (RFI); radio-quiet zones and RFI mitigation; the selection of sites in NZ for radio-astronomy
  • Starlight Reserves as a protection for astronomical research
  • Cultural aspects of stars and starlight in civilization and society
  • The role of the World Heritage Committee, UNESCO MaB Programme, Starlight Initiative and other bodies (International Dark Sky Association, International Union for the Conservation of Nature, government departments, local government etc) in regulating and operating Starlight Reserves.

The conference was a multidisciplinary meeting, and contributions was not only included scientific and technical aspects of starlight, but also on themes which are educational, cultural, environmental, aesthetic, legal or political. Issues were addressed as astro-tourism, Maori astronomy and public outreach through star-gazing. The relationship between stars and the ecology of the nocturnal biosphere was also be discussed.

Other related conferences

Starlight Reserves and World Heritage - Fuerteventura 2009

International Workshop and Expert Meeting

Fuerteventura (Canary Islands), 10-11 March 2009 ...
Where the Earth meets the Universe 2009

International Workshop and Expert Meeting

La Palma (Canary Islands), 9-10 November 2009 ...
Starlight Conference 2007
World Conference in Defence of the Night Sky and the Right to Observe the Stars..... ...


More information




Starlight Initiative collaborates with the


Starlight Finder

Starlight related links


Covenant of Mayors Related Initiative


Colaborating with IAU Working Group


IUCN Dark Sky Advisory Group


Dark Skies Awareness Project


Partnership Unesco-MaB


Member of the Knowledge Network


Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias

The Starlight Initiative is designed as an international action in defence of the values associated with the night sky and the general right to observe the stars. It is open to the participation of all scientific, cultural, environmental, and citizens' organizations...

In partnership with:

150px-iau_logo.svg unwto_knnwt200