Toward a Serial International Approach of the High Mountain Observatories, within important Dark Sky Value

Practical approach of Dark Sky places as possible WH sites leads some of us to underline the exceptional role of high mountain observatories as “Windows to the Universe” for the Human being. Till today, such places keep very important dark sky properties and consequently important astronomical functions. We have to take count that quality of the sky at a given place and dark sky conservation policy is something very important, but not enough by itself to justify inscription on the WH List. It must be related to important cultural or/and natural value. That means presence of significant heritage features in the field of astronomy and science for listing as WH cultural property, or with other natural attributes of exceptional significance to be listed as WH natural property. Case of both natural and cultural WH high value place is also possible as “mixt WH site”.

The Dark Sky place must also meet to a sufficient integrity/authenticity degree for the today tangible heritage of astronomy and to a very significant contribution to the international history of science and astronomy as intangible attribute of the place. That point must be demonstrated by a serious comparative analysis with similar places in the world and in the region. In case of serial nomination as examined there, each individual site must contribute significantly to the Outstanding Universal Value of the global series.

First, we intend to give a short account of the today trend for a possible serial nomination of the most significant high mountain observatory keeping important heritage of their major periods for the sky observation (Western Europe, Chile, North America, etc.).

Second, communication will present a case study with Pic du Midi in French Pyrenees, coming from the early origin of mountain scientific stations and observatories (end of 19th C) in Europe, with a long, continuous and important astronomical and scientific history till today with active programs of sky and atmosphere observations.

Michel Cotte

AUTHORS/INSTITUTIONS: M. Cotte, World Heritage Unit, ICOMOS, Tournon, FRANCE|M. Cotte, CFV History of science and technology, University of Nantes, Nantes, FRANCE


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