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New Stargazing Center to open in National Park?

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New Stargazing Center to open in National Park?

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Photo: Wikipedia.

The official Þingvellir committee has welcomed the idea of building the new Icelandic Stargazing Center in the national park.

Part of the proposal includes applying for Þingvellir to become a Dark Sky Park—an international certification of places which consciously limit light pollution.

Ólafur Örn Haraldsson, a ranger at Þingvellir, told RÚV that the center will be open to the public and most likely be run by the Astronomy Association of Seltjarnarnes.

Sævar Helgi Bragason, head of the Association, says that the project is in its early stages and has been under discussion for several years. The Center will probably feature two or three telescopes for studying both the northern lights and the stars. A meeting is due to take place in the coming days, but no construction schedule has yet been agreed upon.

Ólafur says that draft local plans for the Hakið area of the national park include space for the Center, where views of the southern skies should be particularly good.

Þingvellir came out very well in scientific analyses of light pollution—though not as well as Hótel Rangá in South Iceland. However, as facilities at Rangá are mostly just for hotel guests, while Þingvellir is a year-round magnet for all sorts of tourists and residents, it was decided the national park would be the best location for the institution.

Though open to the public, the Stargazing Center will be a functioning scientific institution and not just a tourist attraction.

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