Africa is the place to see stars

first_imgThe Milky Way blazes overhead in the dark Namibian night.(Image: Tivoli) The NamibRand Nature Reserve also offers spectacular natural landscapes.(Image: NamibRand)This 13 min video contains about 250 hours of actual exposures, gathered at Tivoli Farm, Namibia, during 10 perfectly cloudless nights.(Video: Lorenzo Comolli Astronomy)Visit MediaClubSouthAfrica.com on YouTube.MEDIA CONTACTS • Scott KardelInternational Dark-Sky Association+1 520.293.3198• Nils OdendaalCEO, NamibRand Reserve+264 61 224 882Janine ErasmusSouthern African astronomy buffs have another reason to celebrate – hot on the heels of the awarding of the greater part of the Square Kilometre Array to the region, comes the news that the NamibRand Nature Reserve in Namibia has been proclaimed as the continent’s first international dark-sky reserve (IDSR), meaning that it’s one of the best places on earth to star-gaze.The proclamation falls under the dark-sky movement, an initiative of the Arizona-based non-profit International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) which was the first organisation, and is currently the largest, to embrace this concept.Located in southwestern Namibia, the privately owned NamibRand covers an area of just over 170 000 ha.It joins a handful of other areas around the world – and only three other reserves, in New Zealand, Canada and the UK – recognised by the IDA as the best places on earth to see the splendour of the universe at night, just as it was before humans came along.The dark-sky movement seeks to limit the intrusion of artificial light into the experience of observing the night skies. The adverse effect of this intrusion is known as light pollution, and it happens when artificial light is not properly shielded, causing sky glow, glare or light trespass. This limits the ability to see details of the night sky whether unaided or through a lens.Light on the ground need not be unfriendly to dark skies, if properly set up. But poorly shielded artificial light, according to the IDA, also affects the ecology of an area and impacts on nocturnal animals, predatory behaviour, migration patterns and the mating and communication habits of creatures.Gold tier status for dark-sky excellenceWhile not the first IDSR in the world, the NamibRand is the first to achieve gold tier status. For stargazers this is good news, because it means that the reserve is unparalleled in terms of night-time viewing as any artificial lights that are present make little or no impact on the dark sky. The nearest town lies over 100km away, and the closest major city is Windhoek, some 400km distant.For ecologists, gold status is a sure indication that the NamibRand staff has made every effort to keep the impact of artificial light on the reserve’s fauna to a minimum.“We did a detailed audit of all external light fixtures on the reserve and applied corrective measures, including retrofitting, replacing fixtures or using lower wattage bulbs,” said the reserve’s CEO Nils Odendaal, “so that these would comply with our lighting guidelines as stipulated in our dark-sky reserve management plan.”According to the reserve’s dark-sky lighting guidelines, exterior lighting is kept to a minimum and where necessary, is not only fully shielded, but emits an amber or red light which is kinder to the eyes. Lights are also controlled by motion detectors or timers, where possible, to ensure they’re on for as short a time as possible.Vehicles are encouraged to use headlights (on dim) only when the light of the moon is insufficient, otherwise they use parking lights. It’s perfectly safe to drive using these less powerful lights at the slower speeds used on the reserve. Headlights on bright are only allowed on the public road C27, and vehicle lights may not be directed at buildings or tourist accommodation.The reserve will continue with its responsibility of raising awareness of the importance of preserving the night skies.“NamibRand serves on several local and national committees where we can share information with other conservation organisations and stakeholders,” said Odendaal. ”An example of this is the recently launched Nam-place project, which aims to unite landowners and custodians across large landscapes in an effort to co-manage these local landscapes for the benefit of conservation.”NamibRand is using its position on these committees, and its close ties to bodies such as the Namibia Nature Foundation, to drive awareness about light pollution and light conservation in general, said Odendaal.In addition, the NGO Namib Desert Environmental Education Trust, located in the reserve, educates visitors, schoolchildren and neighbouring communities about astronomy, the night sky, and other aspects of conservation and sustainability. The organisation hosts about 1 000 school children each year and also disseminates environmental literature to a readership base of about 18 000 readers, said Odendaal.Exceptionally dark skiesNamibRand’s application was submitted to the IDA in February 2012. It was championed by retired physics and astronomy professor George Tucker from Nassau, New York. Tucker is an IDA member who had first visited Namibia back in 2003 and, he said in the application’s introduction, was amazed at the sheer volume of stars visible to him there – stars he’d never seen before.He was even able to move around, in the dark, by the light of the Milky Way alone.Over the past eight years Tucker has been conducting measurements of the darkness of the Namibian sky, using a sky quality meter – this is an instrument which gives a measure of the night sky’s brightness in terms of the magnitude per square arc-second.An arc-second is a unit of angular measurement that is equal to 1/3600 degrees of an arc – we understand that there are 360 degrees in a circle, 60 arc-minutes in a degree, and 60 arc-seconds in each arc-minute. The arc-second is a tiny measurement – for a human hair to cover one arc-second it would have to be viewed from 10 metres away.The magnitude is simply a measure of the brightness of an object.The higher the number given by the sky quality meter, the darker the sky. Tucker consistently got readings of over 22 on his meter – this means that observers will be able to see, with a help of a telescope, stars of the 22nd apparent magnitude, which are very dim. To put this in perspective, the faintest celestial object visible to a sharp naked eye is around magnitude six, and that’s in exceptionally dark conditions. The spiral galaxy M81 or Bode’s Galaxy, magnitude 6.9, is about 12-million light years away and pushes the ability of the naked eye to the limit.In terms of the Bortle Dark-Sky Scale, which measures night skies on a scale from one to nine – where one is dark enough to observe phenomena such as zodiacal light and shadows cast on the ground by the Milky Way, and nine is a brilliantly lit urban sky – the NamibRand comes in at one.The measurements haven’t changed in all of the eight years, wrote Tucker, and it was these outstanding readings that prompted him to nominate the NamibRand as an IDSR.“Viewing the pristine night sky over the NamibRand is an unforgettable experience,” he said in a statement. “Achieving this status is a significant accomplishment not just for the NamibRand, but also for Namibia and all of Africa.”Because tourism forms the major part of the NamibRand’s income, it’s imperative for the sustainability of the reserve that its natural assets are protected. As an astrophotography site, it would be highly sought after.The &Beyond hospitality group maintains an observatory, which boasts not only a Meade LX200R 12-inch telescope but also a full-time astronomer, at its luxury Sossusvlei Desert Lodge, situated in the NamibRand. The group also played an important role in the reserve’s new IDSR status.Other concessionaires in the reserve include Wolwedans camp; the self-catering NamibRand Family Hideout; walking safari company Tok-Tokkie Trails; Namib Sky Balloon Safaris; and the conservation organisation N/a’an ku sê Foundation.All of them have stated their commitment to the dark-sky project.Keeping our night skies darkAccording to Dark Skies Awareness, the natural sky brightness level for an unpolluted and clear starry sky is around 21.6 magnitude per square arc-second – at this level the Milky Way can be seen blazing overhead, as well as about 6 000 stars, with the naked eye.Since viewers in bright cities may count themselves lucky to see a few hundred stars in the sky on a clear night, we begin to understand how important it is to maintain these dark-sky areas.Not only are starry skies a pleasure to view, but they are an important part of human and natural life. Many animals only come out at night. Navigators have used, and still use the stars and constellations to guide them. Too much lighting leads to energy waste and the consequent release of greenhouse gases in the production of that energy. It’s even claimed that having better night vision will help to cut down on crime, as criminals will be easier to spot.The IDA has named various measures people can take to keep light pollution to a minimum in areas where it matters. They include shielding outdoor lighting; using light only when necessary and then just enough to get the job done; using dimmers and timers; and using a red- or yellow-tinted light which isn’t as harsh.last_img read more

Important Information about 2018 Soybean Choices

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Have you made your 2018 soybean decisions yet? Here are some tips from Seed Consultants​ about what to consider as you get your #plant18 plans in order.last_img

Three killed in Bihar over ‘buffalo theft’

first_imgThree people were beaten to death by a mob in Saran district of Bihar on Friday, alleging that they attempted to steal a buffalo, the police said. The families of the victims denied the allegation.Raju Nat, Bides Nat and Naushad Qureshi were attacked at Nandlal Tola of Pithauri village in the Baniapur police station limits in the early hours. Two of them were killed on the spot. Another died of injuries on the way to hospital, Superintendent of Police Har Kishore Rai said. He said two or three people have been picked up for interrogation.Deputy SP Ajay Kumar Singh rushed to the village as a clash erupted between the alleged attackers and the family members of the deceased. The relatives said the victims had gone out to relieve themselves when they were beaten to death.“We can say it with certainty that this is not one of those incidents of mob lynching. The animal allegedly being stolen was a buffalo. The attackers and the attacked belonged to the same social groups,” Mr. Singh said.Police have been deployed in the village, while people from both sides were at the police station to lodge complaints. The families of the victims “created a ruckus” at the Sadar hospital, where the bodies were taken for post-mortem, prompting police to use “mild force” to bring the situation under control, officials said.last_img read more

London Olympics: Mahe Drysdale wins gold in single sculls rowing

first_imgFive-time world champion rower Mahe Drysdale of New Zealand powered to gold in the single sculls event at the London Olympics on Friday. Drysdale won by a length to clock six minutes, 57.82 seconds ahead of Czech rower Ondreij Synek, the silver medallist in Beijing, who was 1.5 seconds back.Britain’s Alan Campbell won the bronze in 7:03.28, pushing Lassi Karonen of Sweden into fourth.last_img

Shocked at exclusion of 1L Gorkha people from NRC

first_imgKolkata: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Sunday expressed shock over the exclusion of one lakh Gorkha people from the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam and reiterated that the Centre must take care that genuine Indians are not left out.”Earlier, I was not aware of the complete NRC fiasco. As more and more information is coming in, we are shocked to see that names of more than 1 lakh Gorkha people have been excluded from the list,” Banerjee tweeted. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c detailsPointing out that names of thousands of genuine Indians, including CRPF and other jawans, have been excluded from the list she further tweeted: “In fact names of thousands and thousands of genuine Indians, including those of CRPF and other jawans, family members of former President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, have been excluded.” She asserted through her Twitter handle that the Union government must take care that genuine Indians are not left out. “Government must take care that genuine Indians are not left out and justice is meted out to all genuine Indian brothers and sisters,” she said. Also Read – Tourists to be allowed in J&K from ThursdayBharatiya Gorkha Parisangh has claimed that one lakh Gorkhas have been left out of the final NRC list. On Saturday, Banerjee had described NRC as a “botched up exercise” and said those who tried to take political mileage out of it will have to answer the nation. “My heart goes out to all those, especially the large number of Bengali speaking brothers and sisters, who are made to suffer because of this botched-up process,” the CM tweeted. It may be mentioned here that Banerjee, who is also the supremo of Trinamool Congress, has always been vocal against NRC and had reiterated time and again that she would not allow such exercise in Bengal. On Saturday she had tweeted: “The NRC fiasco has exposed all those who have tried to take political mileage out of it. They have a lot to answer to the nation. This is what happens when an act is guided by an ulterior motive rather than the good of the society and the larger interest of the nation.” Incidentally, the updated final NRC, which validates bonafide Indian citizens of Assam, was published on Saturday, with over 19 lakh applicants failing to make it to the list. Meanwhile, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (Binay Faction) has expressed concerns on more than one lakh Gorkhas being left out of the NRC in Assam. They have demanded that Gorkhas be added in the Protected List and accorded the status of Original Inhabitants. “A GJM delegation will visit Kolkata next week to meet Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and discuss the NRC issue. A high-level delegation will also visit Assam,” said Binay Tamang, GJM president. “On Saturday we saw the true picture. 1,63,436 Gorkhas have been left out. They are suffering,” he added.last_img read more

State of the Art of the Newsstand

first_imgIf you’re in the business of creating, recreating, designing or, God forbid, rescuing magazines on life support, you need to know what the state of the art is at this point.You don’t have to look very far. The dozen or so titles that define the latest details in packaging are on your newsstand.Some sell well and some very well. And some very well for the past few decades. Examining them amounts to a master’s degree in magazine crafts from how to construct a great cover to what’s sexy with fashion photography and trendy typography thrown in. 8. How to Talk to WomenCosmopolitan’s genius at knowing how to write edgy cover lines that barely avoid the magazine from being sold in a brown bag is still on a roll after 40 years. Although some buzz words have come and gone (last year it was “revenge”), there are still always three mentions of sex. 7. The Sexiest MagazineESPN The Body Issue. Ordinary people who happen to be athletes who happen to be sexier than models and movie stars. 3. Front of the BookYou can pretty much figure out how a magazine is trying to position itself by the importance it puts on the pages that precede the well.How one constructs the front of the book has become a science, from the length of the pieces, to the frequency of graphics and columnists. Esquire wants to attract young men with buying power and it does it in a skillful, literate way. No junky graphics, no quick fixes. And for the first 110 pages of the current issue. 1. TypographyIf you want to look up-to-date these days try using very, very condensed sans-serif type. NEW BEAUTY ($9.95 at your newsstand) does it very well issue after issue. However, I can’t guarantee that it won’t look tired by next year. It’s an old rule: the trendier you are, the faster you fall. 9. How To Talk to a GenerationRolling Stone, like nobody else, has always known how to earmark everything that interests its audience from music to technology to politics. To say that it’s influential is an understatement (it was one of the first magazines to run Candidate Obama on the cover) and its mix of cover lines is always a good barometer of current popular culture. 11. How To Wow Them on the NewsstandsVanity Fair picks big stars and big stories and world class gossip presented in elegant ways. The magazine’s covers always stand out, the main headline is usually the name of the cover subject. I’ve counted the words on VF covers for months at a time and the average has consistently been 70, which you might also consider the state of the art. 4. Back of the BookBloomberg BusinessWeek gets high marks for everything from the reportage to the graphics. However, the only part that doesn’t take itself too seriously and is habit-forming is the Etc. section. It’s fast-moving and funny and makes no pretense at being useful. Check out “Great Moments in Nepotism”, the only article in the issue that will stay with you. 10. How to Look UsefulNew York is the original service magazine. It’s hit some high notes before but Adam Moss has redefined the state of the art. New York is packed with useful stuff presented with obsessive detail. It’s the ultimate survival guide to the City and it’s thicker and sells more copies than ever before. 6. Fashion PhotographyKarl Lagerfeld’s photographs of the latest couture in Harper’s Bazaar are not 100 percent professional but they’re straight-forward and totally up-to-date in a strange way. 2. Info-graphicsThanks to the legendary Nigel Holmes (graphics “that try to explain things”), TIME made info-graphics an integral part of the magazine since it was re-designed by the great Walter Bernard over 30 years ago. The graphics are more glorious and more frequent than ever. Seems sometimes that most stories come with a chart, a table, a map or a list. 12. How to Keep Them ComingThe New Yorker, since 1925. Newsstand copies of the magazine get a flap with the headlines on it. The result is one and a half covers: a full-bleed cartoon plus all the best magazine writing in America clearly listed separately. 5. Cutting Edge DesignBefore there was Conde Nast’s Wired, there was Wired. Wired only pays homage to itself and surprises all the time. Some of the graphics need a guide book but the overall package is always amazing.last_img read more

Transat debuts new videos that highlight importance of sustainable tourism

Transat debuts new videos that highlight importance of sustainable tourism

first_imgTransat debuts new videos that highlight importance of sustainable tourism Share Tuesday, May 8, 2018 Posted by Tags: Transatcenter_img MONTREAL — Transat A.T. is continuing its efforts in promoting sustainable travel by producing two new videos that highlight eco-friendly measures done by both Transat and hoteliers.The new videos will be featured on its in-flight entertainment systems, online and via the company’s social media accounts.The video ‘Sustainable tourism – Transat’s hotel partners in action’ highlights exemplary practices by five of Transat’s hotelier partners in Mexico: Karisma Hotels & Resorts; Bahia Principe Hotels & Resorts; Barcelo Hotel Group; AMResorts; and Melia Hotels International. These initiatives cover all aspect of corporate social responsibility and environment stewardship, from reduced water and energy consumption to waste recycling, protection of natural environments and programs available to employees.“Marketing tourism products that consider the environment and local populations is one way that Transat promotes fair trade and responsible tourism,” said Annick Guérard, Chief Operating Officer, Transat. “Since 2012, we have highlighted hotels with Global Sustainable Tourism Council certification on our websites and in our brochures to help travellers make responsible purchase decisions, and we’re now doing so onboard our aircraft as well.”More news:  A new low for no-frills flying: easyJet assigns backless seat to passengerThe second video, titled ‘Environment – Air Transat’s fuel management initiatives’, profiles the fuel management program that Transat introduced in 2004 to improve performance and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from its aircraft. Considered one of the most innovative and rigorous programs of its kind, it includes measures implemented before takeoff as well as during and after every flight.<br /><span data-mce-type=”bookmark” style=”display: inline-block; width: 0px; overflow: hidden; line-height: 0;” class=”mce_SELRES_start”></span>These latest video vignettes are meant to complement Transat’s existing tools aimed at raising awareness of sustainable tourism, and are also part of the company’s process to obtain Travelife certification. Travelweek Group << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Attendance at TPIs Summit events at an alltime high

Attendance at TPIs Summit events at an alltime high

first_img Posted by Tags: TPI Wednesday, April 24, 2019 Share Zara Martinez TORONTO — Attendance at TPI – Travel Professionals International’s annual cross-country Summit events was at an all-time high this year with 350+ TPI advisors taking part.TPI CEO Zeina Gedeon along with Director of Sales Christine Winchester and Director of Marketing Caroline Hay travelled across the country as part of the Summit series, to deliver TPI updates on new programs and services as well as deliver sales-centric content to assist their TPI members in moving their business forward.“Our annual Summit Roadshow was a great success. It is a trip that Head Office and TPI advisors across Canada look forward to. It is the opportunity to meet face to face with our advisors and allows us to not just pass on our key TPI messages but to further develop strong relationships with each individual TPI advisor,” says Gedeon.She adds: “Being joined by our key supplier partners really rounds out the Summit experience, keeping up on industry trends and knowing our partners are here to support our network towards continued sales growth is paramount, and the feedback we received was fantastic!”More news:  Hotel charges Bollywood star $8.50 for two bananas and the Internet has thoughtsTPI travel advisor Jaime Murphy took part in what has become an annual tradition. “This is my 10th year of attending TPI’s annual summits,” she said. “I love attending the annual summit series as it provides me with important information and connections to continue to operate my business at the top of my game.”More positive feedback for the events included: “I loved the Summit and all the information I received”; “I was impressed that the CEO was willing to travel across the country and meet with her advisors face to face”; “It’s clear there was a lot of preparation for this summit. I enjoyed it. It was the right amount of time. Long enough breaks to speak with colleagues, head office, and partners.”Hay says TPI holds more than 40 in-person training events every year. “The community we have as an organization is incredible and when we posed the question during the Summits of ‘Why TPI’, the #1 answer right across the country was the support from head office and other advisors. That is why we continue these in-person meetings through the year! It’s a big differentiator for us and we are very proud of the relationship we have with our TPI advisors.” << Previous PostNext Post >> About Latest Posts Zara Martinez Latest posts by Zara Martinez (see all) New Years Mastermind on AMA Waterways River Cruise – June 6, 2019 Attendance at TPI’s Summit events at an all-time high – April 24, 2019 The 2019 Travel & Vacation Show – June 22, 2018 Attendance at TPI’s Summit events at an all-time highlast_img read more