The Westhavelland Star Park consists of the area of the Westhavelland Nature Park and the municipality of Schollene. The 1,380 square kilometer area is located only about 70 km west of Berlin, near the border of Saxony-Anhalt. Due to the sparse population and the absence of larger villages, a first-class view into the dark night sky is possible and the Milky Way can be seen in its full glory.
The first Star Park in Germany
Since 2014, the area has been the first star park in Germany to be chosen by the International Dark Sky Association (IDA), the International Society for the Protection of the dark sky. Now it offers star lovers the opportunity to escape the growing light pollution in the big cities. Due to the adherence to a lighting plan as well as a zone without lighting the area is one of the few in Germany with an almost naturally dark night sky.
The area is divided into three zones: the core zone, with almost natural darkness, the buffer zone adjacent to this zone (5-10km) and the outer zone. By infrastructural delimitations artificial lighting can be banished in this way in the core zone for the most part.
Why should we protect the dark night sky?
By designating geographical areas as star parks and protecting them, greater awareness of light pollution should be created, i.e. the conscious use of artificial light should be encouraged to protect the night, human health and the habitat of nocturnal animals. Light pollution means the brightening of the night by artificial light caused by humans, which is increasingly recognized as a disturbing influence on flora and fauna and on biological day-night cycles. By 2014, the IDA had awarded only 24 star parks worldwide, eight of them in Europe.