Connemara Dark Skies is a recently formed group of individuals living in different parts of Connemara, who all have an interest in preserving the magic and beauty of the night skies that we are lucky enough to see here on a regular basis The west coast of Ireland is one of the places left in Europe where we can still see pristine clear dark skies on non-cloudy nights.
This resource is becoming more and more valuable as the world faces more and more light pollution affecting the environment, the biodiversity and humans living on this planet. Being able to look up at a clear, dark sky is becoming more and more rare in the rich world. Authors, artists, and even scientists have started to express concern about what our lack of daily exposure to a dark night-time sky might mean for our psyche and our sense of place in the universe. One of the areas we are interested in providing positive, helpful information is to the tourism providers in the Connemara area.
Astrotourism has become a growing area within the eco-tourism sector. Some definitions of Astrotourism:
“Astrotourism is any kind of tourism that involves the night sky or visiting facilities related to astronomy like observatories and combining that with a broader sense of ecotourism where interaction with nature is what the visitor experience is about,”
John Barentine, the director of public policy at the International Dark-Sky Association. Astro Tourism is defined as ‘ … tourism using the natural resource of unpolluted night skies, and appropriate scientific knowledge for astronomical, cultural, and environmental activities’ (Fayos-Solé et al., 2014.
Purposely traveling to nature-rich destinations that experience less light pollution, allowing you to spot stars more easily, as well as visiting observatories and astronomy-related organisations with ecotourism in mind, defines Astrotourism.
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The astonomical phenomenon of Aurora Borealis or the Northern Lights can be witnessed from certain parts of Connemara. Aisling McGuire, a member of Connemara Dark Skies, captured the above image at Glassilaun Beach. The featured image was captured by Josh Mathews.