Sat, Jun 23, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Nantou seeks dark sky park status for Hehuanshan views

RECOGNITION:The county is organizing a series of stargazing events during the summer in five locations that it has designated its ‘least light-polluted areas’

By Chang Hsieh-sheng and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

A telescope is aimed at the Milky Way at the Yuanfong parking lot on Hehuanshan in Nantou County on Feb. 2.

Photo courtesy of the Cingjing Tourism Association

The International Dark-sky Association might designate Hehuanshan (合歡山) in Nantou County as the nation’s first — and Asia’s third — international dark sky park if an application by the county government is successful, it said on Thursday, adding that it is finalizing the paperwork.

South Korea’s Firefly Eco Park in 2015 was the first in Asia to obtain such a designation and was this year followed by Japan’s Iriomote-Ishigaki National Park.

Hehuanshan’s altitude and low light pollution have won it acclaim in the region as a must-visit stargazing location, the county said at a news conference.

Designating the mountain an international dark sky park was the Cingjing Tourism Promotion Association’s idea, the county said, adding that an application would be submitted next month.

The county has planned a series of stargazing events and has officially designated the Shanlin River (杉林溪), Cingjing Farm (清境農場), Sitou (溪頭), Sun Moon Lake (日月潭) and Houtanjing (猴探井) as the “five least light-polluted areas,” it said.

The first of the series of events is to be held today at the Shanlin River, the county said, adding that there would be fireflies, which only appear there in July.

Stargazing gatherings will be held every Saturday in August at the Sitou Nature Education Park, the county said, adding that they would be followed by a large-scale event on Sept. 8.

A leisurely stargazing stroll around Sun Moon Lake is planned for Sept. 29 and another gathering is planned at Houtanjing for Oct. 27, the county said.

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