Encouraging observation of the Carpathian sky

Territorial cooperation between partners along the Polish-Slovak border is promoting tourism and culture based on the natural environment, particularly the region's night sky which is unpolluted by artificial light. The partners adapted existing infrastructure to tourists' needs so as to create new eco-friendly tourism products, promoted the region and undertook educational work in the area of astronomy.

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Equipment funded through the EU allows young people to discover the Carpathian Sky © Carpathian Sky project Equipment funded through the EU allows young people to discover the Carpathian Sky © Carpathian Sky project

" The project shows that peripheral regions can find their own way to develop, based on what they can offer. In our case it was unspoiled nature and cultural, historic and culinary traditions. The results benefit the partners, local communities, border region and both countries. Observatories in Humenne, Roztoky and Lubomir organise astronomy workshops for young people every year and more people are interested in astronomy-based tourism. "

Igor Kudzej, Director of the Humenne Astronomical Observatory

A planetarium was built next to the observatory at Kolonica in Slovakia and six sets of technical equipment for day and night sky observation were bought. New equipment for schools allowed pupils to take pictures of the Moon of such quality that NASA posted them on their website and has enabled young people to participate in international astronomy projects and gain more knowledge.

The partners' astronomy workshops and dark sky presentations were attended by participants from across Poland and Slovakia, as well as the Czech Republic and Ukraine. The project promoted astronomy-based tourism beyond the region, and set up the first Slovak Dark Sky Preserve.

Big rise in visitor numbers

Over 100 articles were published as a result of the project, even some in Slovenia, and several thousand people visited the website. Annual visitor numbers to the partners’ observatories have risen from 6 000 - 8 000 before the project to over 20 000 today.

Information on preventing pollution of the night sky by artificial light was distributed to local authorities, several of which have switched to more environmentally friendly street lighting. The Podkarpackie region included development of astronomy-based tourism in the Bieszczady Mountains in its regional development strategy. Other project publications include an astronomy mini-dictionary, a sky observation manual and material on astronomy-based tourism development.

Astronomy-based tourism could become an important economic driver and job creator in the region thanks to the combination of dark sky and relevant infrastructure. Several agencies have included astronomy tours in their offers. Continued cooperation between the partners after the project has resulted in the establishment of the Bieszczady Dark Sky Preserve, as well as workshops, conferences and new projects.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “Carpathian Sky” is EUR 1 240 769, of which the EU’s European Regional Development Fund is contributing EUR 986 516 from the Operational Programme “Poland - Slovakia” for the 2007 to 2013 programming period.

Draft date

03/11/2015