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A World Premiere! The International Dark Sky Reserve Of Mont-Megantic Is Officially Created

illustration only
by Staff Writers
Notre-Dame-des-Bois, Canada (SPX) Sep 20, 2007
During a press conference held this morning at the ASTROLAB of Mont-Megantic, the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) has awarded the status of "International Dark Sky Reserve" to a 5500 square km area surrounding the Mont-Megantic Observatory and the National Park of Mont-Megantic. This large area also includes the regional municipalities of Granit and Haut-Saint-Francois and the City of Sherbrooke.

The Vice-President of IDA, Christian Monrad, was present to award the certification to: Bernard Malenfant, President of ASTROLab du Mont-Megantic; Pierre Goulet, Director of Mont-Megantic National Park Joseph Hubert, Vice-Chancellor of University of Montreal Robert Lamontagne, Executive Director of Mont-Megantic Observatory Maurice Bernier, Prefect of MRC of Granit Martin Mailhot, Prefect of MRC of Haut-Saint-Francois Jean Perrault, Mayor of Sherbrooke This Reserve was created to preserve the quality of the night sky in order to ensure the sustainability of education and research activities of 1.6m telescope of the Mt-Megantic Observatory, one of the most important astronomy and astrophysics research centers in Canada.

Moreover, the creation of the Reserve will strongly contribute to consolidate the outreach activities of the ASTROLab of Mt-Megantic National Park, while enhancing the beauty of nightscapes for all citizens.

This certification was made possible because of a comprehensive action plan based on an efficient way to managed outdoor lighting. The regulations that have been adopted by the 34 municipalities of the reserve have contributed to control and limit the light pollution growth, which had doubled over the past 20 years.

Furthermore, the financial support offered by the three levels of governments (municipal, provincial and federal) and by Hydro-Quebec has enabled the replacement of about 2500 lighting fixtures in order to reduce light pollution by 25 per cent, and energy consumption by 1.3 GWh/yr.

This unique project has contributed to the development of a new regional expertise in outdoor lighting management that could become a model for many industrialized countries who wish to find balance between outdoor lighting needs and general preoccupations about energy efficiency and nightscapes preservation.

In order to underline the creation of the International Dark Sky Reserve of Mt-Megantic, a large panel has been deployed at the entrance to the Mt-Megantic National Park, next to the road that leads up to the observatory. Other similar panels will eventually be installed at different strategic places, so everyone will be reminded of the importance of protecting a world heritage (unfortunately disappearing from our societies) the starry nights, our access to the Universe!

At the end of the press conference, M. Bernard Malenfant, President of the ASTROLab, has emphasized the great support given by the local population, who have enthusiastically accepted to replace all their lighting fixtures, whether on their private houses, industries, stores, or institutions.

By doing so, the population has clearly shown its attachment to the observatory, the park and the beauty of the night sky. International Dark Sky Association (IDA): The International Dark-Sky Association, an educational, environmental nonprofit organization, is dedicated to the protection and preservation of the nighttime environment and our heritage of dark skies through quality outdoor lighting. With over 11,000 members in more than 70 countries, IDA is the leading authority concerning problems and solutions related to light pollution.

International Dark Sky Reserve: The IDA defines an International Dark Sky Reserve as a public or private land possessing an exceptional or great quality of starry nights and nocturnal environment that is specifically protected for its scientific, natural, educational, cultural, heritage and/or public enjoyment mission on a large peripheral area.

The Dark Sky Reserve consists of a core area meeting the minimum criteria for sky quality and natural darkness, and a peripheral area that supports dark sky values in the core and benefits from them, as well.

The Dark Sky Reserve is formed through a partnership of multiple land owners/administrators that have recognized the value of the starry night through regulation and/or formal agreement and/or long term planning.

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Coronet: A Star Formation Neighbor
Pasadena CA (SPX) Sep 18, 2007
While perhaps not quite as well known as its star formation cousin of Orion, the Corona Australis region (containing, at its heart, the Coronet Cluster) is one of the nearest and most active regions of ongoing star formation. At only about 420 light years away, the Coronet is over three times closer than the Orion Nebula is to Earth. The Coronet contains a loose cluster of a few dozen young stars with a wide range of masses and at various stages of evolution, giving astronomers an opportunity to observe "protostars" simultaneously in several wavelengths.







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