Aenos National Park – Aspiring International Dark Sky Park
The Dark Sky Park of Mt. Aenos National Park is a land possessing an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and a nocturnal environment that is specifically protected for its scientific, natural, educational, cultural heritage, and/or public enjoyment. The Dark Sky Park is managed by the Management Body of Mt. Aenos National Park, and its Board and staff supports dark skies and the natural nighttime environment as a valued resource. It is the first National Park of Greece to be designated as Dark Sky Park.
Mt. Aenos National Park apart from its valuable biodiversity and natural beaty, has also its own observatory and astronomical research center. The Research Foundation of Kefallinia (RFK) “EUDOXOS” is the administrational centre of an Astronomical Observatories Complex placed around the 1070 m plateau of the Ainos Mountain. The Eudoxos’ Astronomy Complex comprises the main “Ainos Astronomy Base” and its “Satellite Space Station -G. Lykoudis”. RFK has been established to fulfill the aim of the donation of the Astronomy Base premises by the Hellenic Air Force (concluded in 1998) for the creation of an astronomical observatory in mount Ainos.RFK/”EUDOXOS” is a self-ruled legal entity of the Region of Ionian Islands, in the form of an Astronomical and associated fundamental physics Foundation, as described in its constitutional Presidential Decree (2005). It comprises the following two complementary scientific establishments bearing the same name:
The EUDOXOS National Observatory of Education (NOE-“E”) which administers the RFK’s educational telescopes.
The EUDOXOS National Astronomy Centre (NAC-“E”) which administers the RFK’s research telescopes.
RFK/EUDOXOS was the first Robotic Astronomy Center in Greece (1999) and has been one of the major European establishments specializing in Robotic Astronomy, as well as one of the founding members of the Heterogeneous Telescope Network (HTN). Its infrastructure was funded on a case by case basis mainly from national (Ministry of Education) and international (E.U.) research programmes (1999-2004).
For billions of years, all life has relied on Earth’s predictable rhythm of day and night. It’s encoded in the DNA of all plants and animals. Humans have radically disrupted this cycle by lighting up the night. Plants and animals depend on Earth’s daily cycle of light and dark rhythm to govern life-sustaining behaviors such as reproduction, nourishment, sleep and protection from predators. Scientific evidence suggests that artificial light at night has negative and deadly effects on many creatures including amphibians, birds, mammals, insects and plants. Nocturnal animals sleep during the day and are active at night. Light pollution radically alters their nighttime environment by turning night into day. For example, Sea turtles (Caretta caretta) live in the Mediterranean Sea, but hatch at night on several Kefalonian beaches. Hatchlings find the sea by detecting the bright horizon over the ocean. Artificial lights draw them away from the sea. Birds that migrate (e.g. ducks) or hunt (e.g. owls) at night navigate by moonlight and starlight. Artificial light can cause them to wander off course and toward the dangerous nighttime landscapes of cities. Many insects (e.g. moths) are drawn to light, but artificial lights can create a fatal attraction. Today many species of flora, fauna, avifauna, as well as lots of insects of Mt. Aenos Dark Sky Park are active mainly at night.
Some of the benefits of the recognition of Mt. Aenos National Park as International Dark Sky Park are the attraction of more visitors. The Management Body provides public education about dark skies. This new programming tool often attracts new visitors to the park. It is also a good marketing tool because it provides new and unique ways to draw visitors. The increase in visitors due to a dark sky designation also means an increase in customers for local area businesses. And finally, in order to achieve a dark sky designation, Management Body and local authorities ensure that the area lighting is dark sky friendly, making the island darker.
Below you can find useful leaflets from IDA (International Dark Sky Association) about the impacts of light pollution to the environment and wildlife (in Greek):
The light management plan of Aenos National Park aims to manage the lighting needs of outdoor areas in order to protect the dark sky of Aenos, to allow astronomical observations as well as any other night activities that needed to maintain and protect the National Park. The plan consists of the following sub-rules. In the event that local, regional or national legislation provides in the future stricter (in terms of night sky protection) rules than those described in this plan then stricter legislation will apply. Emergency situations are also exempt from the rules.
1. Aenos National Park remains by priority without permanently installed outdoor lighting on streets, outdoor areas and in buildings. Any outdoor lighting installation in the future should be justifies for reasons of significant public safety.
2. Light sources that may be installed due to the above reasons should be of full cut-off type and emit zero light flux above the horizontal. Their luminous power should be the minimum possible for fulfilling the installation purpose as well as to use appropriate automations (timers, motion sensors) so that they are activated only when the use of the space requires it. This regulation also applies to the hosted antenna park
3. Light sources that may be installed due to the above reasons should emit a spectrum with a correlated color temperature of no more than 2700K and, if the application allows, even less.
4. Vehicles entering Aenos National Park for any reason (official vehicles, staff vehicles, visitor vehicles) should use the lowest lighting setting sufficient for each part of the route and use the lights only for as long as they are in motion.
5. Temporary lighting during night activities (astronomical observation, camping, night fauna recording, etc.) should be limited to necessary for safety reasons. This includes the use of exclusively low-intensity red flashlights for astronomical observation and the use of safety lighting in the camp that does not emit above the horizontal.
6. The use of recreational lighting such as “light painting”, “searchlights” as well as the use of lasers is prohibited, with the exception of the educational use in astronomical activities
7. The use of illuminated signs or illuminated signs is prohibited. Signs should be readable using personal visitor lights or vehicle lights.
8. Exceptions from this regulation can be given by decision of the Board for special cases and for the shortest possible time.
Management Body of Mt. Aenos National Park organizes starnights every year. For the date dates below have been chozen for starights events:
28 May Aenos National Park
24 July Aenos National Park
25 August Aenos National Park
27 October Aenos National Park
If you wish to participate in any of the above starnight Please visit the headquarters of Aenos Dark Sky Park in Koutavos Environmental Center in Argostoli: Mon.-Fri. 8.00-16.00, Sat. 10.00-13.00, or call +30 26710 29258.
The project entitled: "PANAS - The monumental forests of the Ionian Sea as hotspots of biodiversity and high biopharmaceutical value of macrofruits: mapping, inventory, assessment, networking, conservation and sustainable use" has been included in the O.P.. Ionian Islands, 2014-2020 (Priority Axis 2 - "Environmental Protection and Sustainable Development") and is co-financed by 80% from the European Regional Development Fund and 20% from National Resources.