2023 / 10 / 21
Yesterday was a star-studded night at the IV International Starlight Awards ceremony, a series of awards given by the Starlight Foundation as a system of recognition to institutions, associations, administrations, companies and individuals who have distinguished themselves in the defence of the night sky in some of its four modalities.
The awards ceremony, hosted by the journalist Fernando Valmaseda (Miradas Viajeras), took place at the Parador Nacional de Cuenca and was attended by more than a hundred people, including the winners, the authorities of the province of Cuenca, Rafael Rebolo, Director of the Instituto Astrofísico de Canarias, Rafael Bachiller, Director of the Observatorio Astronómico Nacional y del Real Observatorio de Madrid, and Antonia Varela, Director of the Starlight Foundation.
The IV Starlight Awards ceremony took place during the VI International Starlight Meeting, held from 18 to 20 October, which brought together the main areas and professionals involved in the Starlight Movement to share experiences, discuss issues related to astrotourism and define guidelines for the future of the sector.
- Starlight Award for astrotourism and business development linked to the protection of the night sky:
"El Castillo Astronomical Observatory (Borobia, Soria). The "El Castillo" Astronomical Observatory was inaugurated by the Borobia Town Council in 2002. It is located in the town of Borobia, next to Moncayo, in the easternmost part of the province of Soria, close to the border with Zaragoza, a region particularly affected by depopulation. In fact, it was born as a rural development project that sought to exploit a resource generally associated with depopulated areas: the cleanliness and darkness of their skies. The initiative came from the La Raya Cultural Association in Borobia and was soon taken up by the Borobia Town Council.
- Starlight Award for Astronomy Education and Outreach:
First Brigade to protect the skies of the Coquimbo region (Chile). A group of volunteers, mainly students, dedicated to protecting the dark skies of the Coquimbo region of Chile and raising astronomical awareness in the community, especially among children. The initiative, a pioneer in the region, was born nine years ago in Andacollo and is already diversifying (there is a second brigade in La Higuera). The idea, explains its current president, Andrea Castillo, is "to continue spreading the word about protecting the skies and sharing the protection of the astronomical heritage with the community".
- Starlight Awards for the best lighting project
Soria Provincial Council. The province of Soria has been working for years on a huge project to renovate public lighting in almost 70% of the municipalities in the province. In addition, a light zoning has been carried out to establish technical criteria for lighting projects and works according to the degree of vulnerability to light pollution and outdoor lighting regulations.
- Starlight Award for the best accommodation:
Hotel El Cielo de Muriel. Hotel Cielo de Muriel is located in the Starlight Tourist Destination Muriel Viejo, in Soria, Castilla y León. It offers its guests a unique experience where they can enjoy astro-tourism with a high level of comfort. This Starlight accommodation stands out for its sustainability and concern for the environment. It also has its own restaurant with menus based on local produce and suppliers.
Lugar Nas Estrelas. Lugar nas Estrelas, located in the small village of Peso in the municipality of Covilhã, was the first Starlight accommodation in Portugal. It is a special place that combines astrotourism, gastronomy and local experiences, located on the so-called "Open Sky Route", an imaginary route through the landscapes, people and stories of this mountainous region of the Serra da Estrela.
In addition to these four awards, the Starlight Foundation presents the 'Starlight Awards' to those projects that stand out in any of the four categories. The aim, says the organisation, is to make these actions visible and to promote them as examples for the rest of the world to follow.
The Jury has also decided to award the following Starlight Recognitions:
- Starlight Recognition in Astrotourism and Business Development linked to the Night Sky:
Astroándalus (Jaén, Spain)
AstroÁndalus is the first travel agency specialised in astronomical tourism. It also offers consultancy services in astro-tourism and outreach activities.
NURARQ, Archaeological and Cultural Menorca (Menorca, Spain)
Company that offers exclusive activities to discover Menorca's archaeology and night sky.
- Starlight Awards in Education and Dissemination of Astronomy:
Escuela Cosmofísica (Alto Turia, Valencia).
Science school with itinerant and fixed astronomical activities for children, based in Titaguas (Valencia).
- Starlight Award for Starlight Accommodation:
Riad Ouzina TGM
Located in the middle of an oasis in the Atlas desert of Morocco. It is the first Starlight-certified accommodation in the country.
In addition to the Starlight Awards and Recognition, the gala also included the presentation of awards to the winners of the Starlight Photo Marathon, a night photography competition that takes place annually in Starlight-certified areas.
The most emotional moment came from Antonia Varela, director of the Starlight Foundation, who wanted to end the gala as it had begun, with some heartfelt words of thanks to the attendees and to all the members of the Starlight family, which is growing bigger and stronger every year.
The 4th Starlight Awards Gala was, in short, a night of emotion and astronomy that none of us present will ever forget. We can only encourage all defenders of the night sky to be attentive to the next call for entries for these awards.