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Tibet plans night-sky conservation zone

Ngari Prefecture in southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region plans to have a 2,500-square-km plateau formally recognised for its unobstructed view of the night sky.

Ngari’s tourist bureau told Xinhua on Thursday that it has applied to join the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), a global organisation that campaigns against light pollution, in order to build a conservation zone in line with international standards.

The IDA has acknowledged 16 “Dark Sky Parks,” public spaces deemed to have exceptional starry skies with mitigated light pollution. If Ngari’s application is successful, it will become the first such park in Asia, said Wang Xiaohua with the IDA’s China branch.

According to Wang, Ngari has ideal natural conditions for astronomical observation, being located on the underpopulated Qinghai-Tibet Plateau with limited vapors and high air transparency.

The Beijing Observatory has donated six powerful astronomical telescopes and other observation devices to the planned Ngari Night-Sky Conservation Zone, which has also received 5 million yuan (800,000 US dollars) of government funding for construction.

Scientists with the International Astronomical Union selected Ngari last year as a site for building a world-class observatory. Once completed, the observatory, perched at an altitude of 5,100 meters above sea level, will be open to cooperative projects among Asian astronomers.

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