The New Zealand International Starlight conference will take place at Lake Tekapo, New Zealand in June 2012.

This conference is recognized by the Starlight Initiative as the third of a series started in 2007 on the island of La Palma with the World Conference in Defence of the Night Sky and the Right to Observe the Stars, where the Starlight Declaration was adopted. It will address themes concerning

  • the defence of the quality of the night sky,
  • the right to observe the stars, the heritage of starlight,
  • the issues of light pollution, the protection of observatory sites,
  • the benefits of public outreach in astronomy and
  • the cultural aspects of visual astronomy.

The Starlight Conference in New Zealand has been planned in conjunction with a bid we recently submitted to the International Dark-Sky Association for a Dark-Sky Reserve to be recognized in the Mackenzie Basin region around Lake Tekapo, and also in the nearby Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park. A Starlight Reserve for the Mackenzie Basin was also proposed in the recent IAU-ICOMOS Thematic Study. We will discuss the concept, implementation and benefits of Starlight Reserves as a means of protecting the night sky, with the benefits for public outreach and astro-tourism, and for astronomical research.

In addition, several radio astronomers have pointed out that the issues of radio-frequency interference have much in common with issues of light pollution. We will therefore expand the topics under discussion to RFI and the development of radio-astronomy in New Zealand, especially the selection of radio-quiet sites. This is topical as New Zealand may participate with Australia in the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio-astronomy project.

Earlier Starlight meetings were held at La Palma in April 2007 and in Fuerteventura (both in the Canary Islands) in March 2009. The New Zealand meeting will continue the progress made at these earlier meetings.