Sunday, 3 February 2019

Huge potential for astrotourism in Sabah

Sabah Stargazers Association programme outreach director Emma Zulaiha Zulkifli said the state has about 90 per cent areas which people still could see the night sky details with naked eyes. (Photo taken from Sabah Stargazers Facebook page)

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah has the potentials to be fully developed as astrotourism destination if areas in the state are gazetted as Dark-Sky preserves.

Astrotourism or stargazing is one of the trends among tourists or “darkness seekers” who are willing to travel to far-flung and underdeveloped areas to see clearest sky at night.

Sabah Stargazers Association programme outreach director Emma Zulaiha Zulkifli said the state has about 90 per cent areas which people still could see the night sky details with naked eyes.

Among them are Kudat, Kota Belud, Kundasang and Semporna.

“Those places are areas with no light pollution or excessive artificial lights.
“But having such wide area is not enough to be recognised as preserve dark-sky park under International Dark-Sky Association,” she told NSTP, adding the gazettement requires endorsement from the state government and relevant authorities to control light usage by the people.

The association’s Communications officer Yunus Jinul said there was a need to create awareness among the community on controlling ways and use of lights at night.

“Lights are supposed to be torching downwards or towards direction that people need for walking or driving.

“However, there are many lamps especially outdoors that are emitting light towards the sky or area which has no purpose of illumination (merely for decorations),” he said, adding there should be guidelines on how to install lamps and design for safety purposes among others to reduce light pollution.

Meanwhile, Sabah Stargazers Secretary Mohd Luqmanul Hakim Muharun said the association has attracted not only astronomers, but people from all walks of life including doctors, teachers, photographers and even villagers.

“Through the sharing of astonishing photographs of stars, milky way and moon, public are willing to join our activities and learn more about astronomy.

“We hope through the art of photography, people will commit in reducing light pollution to see beautiful night sky,” he added.

The association, which is registered in 2015, has so far held about 50 outreach, educational and technical programmes for public including tourists.

Among them include annual “Hunt for Sabah Milky Way”, “Hunt for Sabah Deep Sky Objects”, witnessing supermoon and eclipse, and created a record on sightings of 1,243 meteors in a single night at Tegudon Tourism Village in Kota Belud among others.


Follow Sabah Stargazers on its social media for activities, more pictures and documentaries.
-nst online.

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