The best place – and as far as the International Dark Sky Association is concerned, the only place in the Middle East – to see the night sky in its full glory is at the Ramon Crater. The Association has named the Negev’s Ramon Crater Reserve the first “International Dark Sky Place” in the region.
The Association “recognizes those sites around the world where the night sky is maintained in its natural state, preserving the unique appearance of the starry night sky in all its glory, for ecological, astronomical and cultural reasons.” So far, only 54 other nature reserves and parks have been awarded this title in 15 countries around the world, it said, with Israel the first to earn the title in the Middle East.
“The Ramon Crater is part of the nature reserves of the Tzinim Cliff and the Negev Highlands, and it is the largest and most impressive crater of the three unique erosion craters in the Negev desert,” according to the group. “The genesis-like landscapes of the Ramon Crater include geological formations that are unparalleled in the world. The desert landscape in the Ramon Crater is breathtaking, especially at nightfall. The crater is known to have an exceptional quality of star-studded sky and a natural undisturbed night environment that allows not only the development of a unique ecosystem but also a unique human night experience.”
“In order to preserve the special values that exist in the Negev, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority is carrying out many activities,” said Shaul Goldstein, General Director of Parks Authority. “Among the conservation priorities for the Negev’s ecosystems and landscapes is the very important task of preserving the night, dark skies and the very special starlight of the Negev. The recognition will enable the preservation of the important values represented by the Ramon Crater in ecological, scientific, cultural and experiential terms for the general public.” The designation defines the western Ramon Crater as an undisturbed core area, and the eastern part of the crater as an area where the Authority allows visitors to enjoy a unique nighttime experience within campgrounds adapted to minimize light pollution, combined with educational content on astronomy and nature at night, the Association said.