How government can support protection of “dark skies” as a public policy: the experience of Chile

For more than fifty years Chile has been the host of world-leading optical and radio astronomical observatories because of the exceptional atmospheric conditions and the existence of isolated areas in the northern desert regions. As of today, Chile, through agreements with foreign governments and international research institutions around the world concentrates almost 30% of the total radio and optical observation capabilities of the planet, scattered in different sites. With the new projects already planned or in construction, the country will be the host of almost 70% of the total world-wide observational facilities by 2021-2022.

Since the beginning of the astronomical research activities in Chile, the government has played an increasing role in attracting and facilitating the installation of these projects. The presentation shows how the relationship between the government and international consortia has evolved with special reference to designing policies to protect “dark skies” and to manage the relationship between the observations sites, the local productive activities to be developed in the same areas, mainly mining and energy, and the relationship with local communities and aboriginal populations and traditions. Special reference will be made to recent initiatives connected with World Heritage program of UNESCO, new laws and regulations and public awareness and education.

Gabriel Rodriguez

AUTHORS/INSTITUTIONS: G. Rodriguez, Energy, Science & Technology and Innovation Direction, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Chile, Santiago, Region Metropolitana, CHILE


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