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Bright award for dark sky

Wairarapa’s contribution to dark sky conservation in New Zealand has been recognised, with the winning of the annual Bright Star Award from the Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand [RASNZ].

RASNZ recently hosted its annual conference in Auckland, with Wairarapa Dark Sky Reserve Association patron Sir Maarten Weavers, chair Viv Napier, and application lead Tom Love receiving the award.

The Bright Star Award was in recognition of the effort put into the January 2023 accreditation of the Wairarapa reserve with the International Dark Sky Association [IDA]. The reserve covers 3,665km of southern Wairarapa, with Aorangi Forest at its core.

It was noted at the conference that dark sky enthusiasts around New Zealand are very pleased with the success in Wairarapa and see it as a significant contribution.

Love also received an award recognising his contribution to astronomy.

Napier said the Bright Star Award was very special, as it was awarded by New Zealand pioneers in the Dark Sky movement.

“The RASNZ have been the drivers of Dark Sky in New Zealand – it is a real honour to be recognised for something that you’ve been part of and are really passionate about.

“The awards were given to us personally but it is recognition of the work everyone has done over the last six years. It’s really humbling,” she said.

The future of the Wairarapa group is to ensure that accreditation of the reserve is maintained. The Wairarapa reserve is one of 20 in the world, with an aim to minimise light pollution of the night sky.

“We need to furnish a report to the IDA in December. We are working towards the requirements at the moment. Tom and Maarten did an amazing amount of work to get the accreditation over the line,” Napier said.

The Bright Star Award is given for promoting astronomy to the public, or for astronomical education, or for promoting Dark Skies to allow astro-tourism to flourish.

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