Lately, there are many initiatives that, throughout Catalonia, promote the enjoyment of the night sky and the reduction of light pollution. Initiatives that often arise from a direct relationship between factors such as tranquility, silence, nature, astronomy and light. These concepts have often walked apart, but little by little they are holding hands.

Natural areas such as Montsec already have a long history of protecting the night sky and astronomical observation, both recreational and scientific. But recently, Natural Parks such as Montsant and Aigüestortes and Sant Maurici Lake are also taking giant steps to enjoy nature not only during the day and looking at the ground, but also at night and looking at the sky.

In fact, Montsant has become the first Catalan natural space with double protection of light and acoustic quality. A few days ago the Minister of Territory and Sustainability delivered the certificates of quiet area and quality night sky in the Natural Park and 12 municipalities in its area of influence. This certification becomes an opportunity to capture a sustainable tourism interested in tranquility, listening to nature and observing the sky, and allows you to have a complementary non-seasonal offer to the many tourist attractions in the area, which are so much needed. does to counter another very different model of tourism. So far, the area of acoustic and light quality has been identified, the area object of the project has been delimited and its administrative processing has been carried out for its protection. The highest quality points in the night sky of the area result in darkness 40 times higher than in urban areas such as Tarragona, which allows you to see thousands of stars and the Milky Way in summer with total clarity.

At the same time, the start of the processing of the protection project against noise and light pollution of the Aigüestortes and Estany de Sant Maurici National Park has also recently been announced. In fact, this National Park has recently received certification as a Starlight Reservation and Tourist Destination by the Starlight Foundation, which collaborates with UNESCO in the promotion of natural spaces and their sustainable development. This distinguishes us those spaces with an exceptional quality of the dark sky, that constitute an example of protection and conservation and that incorporate the observation of the firmament like part of his natural, cultural and scientific patrimony, as already did the Montsec the in 2013.

Finally, also mention that many municipalities in the Prades Mountains are taking important steps to protect the night sky and prevent light pollution. Municipalities such as Prades have even begun the process of having an astronomical center that serves the whole territory and allows you to enjoy astronomy, both for nature tourism and for astronomical research. The first in-depth analyzes of the quality of these skies are giving figures that indicate that the Muntanyes de Prades could have one of the best night skies in Catalonia, both for the good levels of darkness and stability of the sky. Photos like the one illustrated in this article have been taken from Prades by Aleix Roig and are just a small sample of the universe that opens up in front of us.

Let’s turn off the lights and enjoy.

Joan Pons Solé

Head of the Environmental and Territorial Action Area of INSTA