Darkness of the night sky is a natural component of our environment and should be protected against negative effects of human activities. The night darkness is necessary for balanced life of plants, animals and people. Unfortunately, development of human civilization and technology has led to the substantial increase of the night-sky brightness and to situation where nights are no more dark in many areas of the World. This phenomenon is called “light pollution” and it can be rank among such problems as chemical pollution of air, water and soil. Besides the environment, the light pollution can also affect e.g. the scientific activities of astronomers - many observatories built in the past began to be located within the glow of city lights making the night observations difficult, or even impossible. In order to protect the natural darkness of nights many so-called “dark sky parks” were established, where the darkness is preserved, similar to typical nature reserves. The role of these parks is not only conservation but also education, supporting to make society aware of how serious the problem of the light pollution is.
History of the dark sky areas in Europe began on November 4, 2009 in Jizerka - a small village situated in the Izera Mountains, when Izera Dark Sky Park (IDSP) was established - it was the first transboundary dark sky park in the World. The idea of establishing that dark sky park in the Izera Mountains originated from a need to give to the society in Poland and Czech Republic the knowledge about the light pollution. Izera Dark Sky Park is a part of the astro- tourism project “Astro Izery” that combines tourist attraction of Izera Valley and astronomical education under the wonderful starry Izera sky. Besides the IDSP, the project Astro Izery consists of the set of simple astronomical instruments (gnomon, sundial), natural educational trail “Solar System Model”, and astronomical events for the public. In addition, twice a year we organize a 3-4 days “Astronomy Workshop for Schools”, where teachers and astronomers from Astronomical Institute (University of Wroclaw) educate the young generations in the field of astronomy and other physical sciences.
AUTHORS/INSTITUTIONS: A. Berlicki, S. Kolomanski, T. Mrozek, Astronomical Institute, University of Wroclaw, Wroclaw, POLANDG. Zakowicz, High School No. 13, Wroclaw, POLANDA. Berlicki, Astronomical Institute, Czech Academy of Sciences, Ondrejov, CZECH REPUBLIC