The International Dark Sky Reserve of Pic du Midi (RICE) is an area of 3,000 km dedicated to the protection of the night sky in the Hautes-Pyrénées.
In December 2013, the Pic du Midi was the sixth area in the world to be accredited by the International Dark Sky Association and the first in continental Europe! Dark Sky was created to combat excessive nocturnal light pollution and engage in a dynamic and sustainable development of the Hautes Pyrenees.
Apart from the disturbance created through the astronomical activity at the Pic du Midi observatory, many other threats stem from light pollution and require us to take action!
Less publicized but no less important than other forms of pollution, light pollution is an ongoing battle for RICE. This “excessive light” disrupts animals and plants, it causes public health problems, it consumes high amounts of energy, it costs money, it destroys the magic of night skies filled with stars but and it stops us dreaming…
The central RICE area covers 620 km² and is based around the borders of existing protected natural areas (Pyrenees National Park, Néouvielle Nature Reserve, Aulon Regional Reserve).
This central RICE area is inherently dark and does not suffer from any light pollution. It is indeed uninhabited and contains no permanent lighting.
The RICE buffer zone (rural, semi-urban and urban) develops awareness and changes light sources. There are 246 municipalities that are committed to reducing light pollution in the Hautes-Pyrénées and returning the night sky to its purest form possible. . This is an exceptional achievement here in France!
Various activities and events have been organised to raise awareness of this commitment and allow everyone to get closer to the stars.
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