The New Zealand Starlight Conference in Tekapo, New Zealand took place between the 20th and 23rd of October 2019.
The main theme of the conference was to develop the concept of New Zealand as the World’s First Dark Sky Nation. We did this by bringing together most of the numerous groups in Aotearoa who already have dark sky accreditation from the International Dark Sky Association, or who aspire to do so in the near future.
The conference helped promote New Zealand as a world leader for dark skies protection and astro-tourism. It also highlighted the health and environmental impacts of artificial light at night (ALAN) by engaging with world experts who made presentations at the Starlight Conference.
Presentations of the latest research on the hazards of blue light emissions from LED streetlights were made, so that New Zealand communities, local government officials and lighting engineers can install lights which comply with the best international practices.
This conference was hosted by the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve (AMIDSR) in Tekapo, New Zealand which was awarded the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) Dark Sky Place of the Year 2018.
The New Zealand Starlight Conference brought together participants from multiple different backgrounds to discuss the inter-related themes of dark-sky protection, the effects of artificial light at night on star-gazing, the environment and on human health and all aspects of lighting technology and astro-tourism.
The following were some of the groups welcomed at the conference as contributors and participants, whether from New Zealand or around the world:
- Stakeholders of dark sky places and aspiring dark sky places
- Stargazers and astro-tourists
- Astronomers (amateur and professional)
- Lighting industry participants
- Astro-tourism industry participants
- Environmental and conservation industry participants
- Health industry participants
- Regulators and policy makers in these fields, including local government councillors, staff members and national politicians
- Researchers and Scientists in these fields
- Aesthetes who appreciate the beauty of the night sky
- Celestial navigators, including early Polynesian navigators.
This was an independently organised but IDA endorsed conference. Supporting organisations and international speakers are encouraged to get in touch.
2019 Conference Report
The New Zealand Starlight Conference has laid out the path towards the world’s first Dark Sky Nation.
This was a conference that we will all remember for many years to come. Over one hundred participants went home with a great feeling of stimulation and renewed energy to protect the night skies of Aotearoa.
The predominant feedback was that the conference made the participants (local and international) feel part of a community, a feeling reinforced by short video messages from IDA and the 14th European Symposium for the Protection of the Night Sky, which emphasized that that we are all ‘under one sky’.
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Tekapo is situated in the South Island of New Zealand, within the Aoraki-Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve.