In New Zealand, humans (and insects) rediscover the dark sky

This story is basically Appeared Atlas Obscura And part of it Climate desk Collaboration.

Mike Bachchas remembers the man simply as “Texan.” A few years ago, Texan, in his seventies, was a guest at Laxton Lodge in New Zealand, owned by Bachus and his family. The man traveled from Texas to the Mackenzie area of ​​the South Island of New Zealand for a landscape, to see the blue glacial lake and the bright currents of violet lupins against the snow-capped peaks above the Golden Tasked Mountains. He did not realize that one of Mackenzie’s most glorious places was revealed after sunset. In one of the darkest night sky areas in the world, the wide brook of the Milky Way even dwarfs near the dwarfs to the high peaks of Auraki or Mount Cook.

One evening, Bacchus invited his guest to go out. Texan’s first instinct was to raise his hand. The stars were so vibrant that it seemed as if he could reach them and catch them. Standing under the great bowl of heaven, the man bathed in the light and passion of the stars. He told Bacchus that he was clearly seeing the stars for the first time since he was 10 years old.

For the box, Texan was amazed at how precious and elusive the clear night sky was. “It really hit home. He just forgot about the galaxy, ”said Bachus.

Lakestone, an off-the-grid lodge on the edge of the bright blue Lake Pukaki, is located within the Auraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve. From the lodge, the nearest traffic light is about 100 miles drive.

Nominated in 2012 and covering an area of ​​more than 1,600 square miles, the reserve offers more protection than just the night sky. It provides relief from the effects of light pollution for every living creature within its borders, from endangered insects to humans who have forgotten the Milky Way path. According to a study, more than 100 percent of the world’s people live under light polluted skies Advances in science. Even three hours away from Dunedin Reserve, where M মাori astronomer Victoria Campbell grew up, the stars are masked.

“It was breathtaking to see and feel what I didn’t see from my home in the city. He was fascinated,” Campbell said of his reserve’s first view of the night sky. whānau [family] We decided to go to Mackenzie because of our love for the environment, and the natural sky. ”

Accommodating just a few thousand people, the Mackenzie Basin is a prime location for stargazing. That is, when it is not cloudy. As astronomer John Hershaw observes, Auraki Mackenzie is “known for his dark skies, not his cloudless skies.” Former director of the Mount John Observatory at Tekapo in the center of the Herenshaw Reserve, and played a key role in protecting the title of Dark Sky. He spoke out in favor of protecting the region’s night sky from the late 1970s. And he’s not done yet.

At his home in Christchurch, Hernandez opened a book he had written, New Zealand Dark Sky Handbook, And Mackenzie flipped over on a map of the district. He marks his finger along the dense blue lines of the Southern Alps and lakes while he and other advocates expect reserves to expand in the neighboring Fairley Basin, which will almost double its size. This is good news for both Stargazer and the region’s smallest inhabitants.

The Mackenzie area’s dry task is home to insects and other insects that are not found anywhere else on earth. For example, Ijatha Saikra It is a moth that is found only in preserved trees, where it teases on the verge of extinction. “These insects have a single reasonable population. Well, I say reasonable population; I haven’t seen more than three insects in a year, “said Robert Hower, an entomologist at Manaki Wenua Landcare Research in New Zealand.

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