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Debrigarh Sanctuary Launches StarGazing Program to Enthral Visitors

Bhubaneswar: In a unique initiative to blend ecotourism with astronomical education, Debrigarh Sanctuary in Odisha has launched a “StarGazing” program from May 1, 2024. Community members, trained to identify stars and constellations, now conduct nightly sessions from 7:00 pm to 7:30 pm for visitors.

Debrigarh Sanctuary, spanning 353 square kilometers and adjacent to the 700 square kilometer Hirakud Wetland, offers an expansive dark sky free from urban light pollution, making it an ideal spot for stargazing. Visitors can enjoy clear views of stars, constellations, and planets like Jupiter, which are visible year-round.

To facilitate this program, Debrigarh Sanctuary has revamped its lighting. Soft, non-reflective lights have replaced the previous strong lights to reduce light pollution and enhance star visibility after 6:30 pm. This new setup, termed “Star Watching Campus Lighting,” ensures a clear and convenient stargazing experience.

The sanctuary has also introduced six new stargazing rooms at the Debrigarh Nature Camp, featuring glass roofs for nighttime star observations. The enthusiastic response to bookings indicates growing public interest in this novel concept. Astrophotographers from Odisha have captured real stars, which are displayed in photo frames around the ecotourism area. Additionally, stargazing books and a telescope are available in the camp’s library for deeper astronomical exploration.

Historically, stars have played a crucial role in navigation before the invention of the compass, guiding ships and humans. Today, wild animals in forests still rely on the natural light of stars and the moon for nocturnal movement, with their eyes adapted to see better at night.

Debrigarh’s stargazing initiative is the first of its kind in Odisha, drawing inspiration from similar programs in places like Ladakh and Uttarakhand. This systematic approach to stargazing is expected to enhance both ecological awareness and tourism in the region.

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