As a result of urbanization, from the second half of the 20 th century nighttime light pollution has multiplied. Because of this, there are only a few places left where we can find a starry sky undisturbed by artificial light.
Reducing light pollution is important not just from economic and environmental protection aspects, but also because of its harmful effect on our flora and fauna. A lot of birds are injured as a result of disorientation and collisions caused by light pollution, and entire insect populations may disappear from newly lighted places. Disturbing the natural nighttime environment can completely ruin the functioning of habitats and the behavior of wildlife. For the purpose of slowing the harmful processes, they started creating Dark Sky Parks, where nighttime light pollution is insignificant and environmental features can also be preserved.
The Hortobágy National Park got Dark Sky Park designation from the International Dark Sky Association in 2011 as just the second such spot in Hungary. Almost undisturbed view of a starry sky from horizon to horizon (‘Hortobágy, where the sky touches the ground’), the sight of the Milky Way and the Zodiacal Light is unforgettable.
The Hortobágy National Park Directorate organizes various astronomy programs for its visitors. Including the evening Fishpond birdwatching, Wild Animal Park visit and bicycle tours combined with ‘Star Walks’. ‘Swallow House’ Youth Hostel and Field Study Centre located in Hortobágy-Máta is the other important site of these programs. The ‘Star Gazer’ is a 3 meter diameter dome on top of a 7 meters tall tower, in which the secrets of the sky can be watched with an excellent apochromatic telescope lens. Getting to know constellations and the shepherd traditions connected to them, presentation of the Moon, Planets, dual stars and deep sky objects are parts of the program.
The astronomy programs are organized at preannounced times (and only if the sky is clear) and you must register for them in advance.
An astronomy program for groups may be requested at the following contacts:
Visitor Centre of Hortobágy National Park
Phone: 0036 52 589 000
About the Dark Sky Park you can find more information here: http://www.hnp.hu/hu/szervezeti-egyseg/turizmus/hortobagyi-csillagosegbolt-park
You can find more information about the sheperd traditions and astronomy here: http://www.hnp.hu/hu/szervezeti-egyseg/turizmus/hortobagyi-csillagosegbolt-park/1411/pasztorok-es-a-csillagos-eg