Menorca has become a Starlight Reserve because of its low light pollution and is therefore one of the points on the planet where the starry sky can be seen most clearly. Follow this post to discover our romantic dinner packs under the stars
- What is Astrotourism?
- What does it mean to belong to the Starlight certified territory?
- Menorca, venue of the II Starlight Astrotourism Meeting
- Menorca, Stralight reserve (much more than sun and beach)
- Morvedra Nou, the perfect setting
- Our theme dinners
- The Tears of Saint Lawrence
- Mobile applications
Photo Ramón Silvela
Astrotourism or astronomical tourism is a type of tourism aimed at satisfying the interests of astronomers and astronomy enthusiasts. But let no one be afraid, it can also be defined as the hobby of visiting places that are suitable for astronomical observation, and Menorca is such a place.
As a result of the intensification of the areas with high light pollution that our planet suffers due to the increased use of artificial lighting, the Starlight Foundation has marked the points on the planet where one can best observe the night sky and enjoy the contemplation of stars as a heritage associated with astronomy.
Photo Ramón Silvela
Being a Starlight Reserve implies a commitment to protect the night sky and eliminate light pollution. In this sense, last year the Regulation for the Protection of the Night Sky in Menorca was approved, which bets on an efficient and sustainable lighting with the island's environment.
As every lover of astrotourism knows, a sky suitable for stargazing is not as easy to find as it might seem. Taking the concept a few steps further, there are the so-called Starlight Tourist Destinations, places that can be visited, which have excellent qualities for the contemplation of the starry skies and which, being protected from light pollution, are especially suitable for developing tourist activities based on this natural resource. The fertile island of Minorca (Balearic Islands) has been the last territory to pass all the tests and be worthy of this certificate granted by the Starlight Foundation.
Photo Ramón Silvela
Menorca was the venue for the II Starlight Astrotourism Meeting, one of the most important international events on the star tourism sector. The island of Menorca was in charge of hosting this special event.
The II Starlight Astrotourism Meeting in Minorca included, in addition to all types of agents and organisations related to astronomical tourism, those territories certified as Starlight tourist destinations, i.e. whose skies have been qualified as especially suitable for enjoying the magic of the dark night and who have committed themselves to the protection of this natural heritage.
After evaluating all the candidatures presented and being a difficult decision given the great quality of all the aspiring territories, the organization explains in a press release, the Starlight Foundation finally decided to choose Menorca to host this event, which took place from the 28th to the 30th of November 2019.
Having the double certification (Starlight Tourist Destination and Starlight Reserve), as well as the numerous facilities offered for the logistic organisation of the Starlight Astrotourism Meeting favoured this decision, which allowed to reduce the registration fee as much as possible and to guarantee the success of the event in an exceptional place.
The island of Minorca, peaceful and diverse, is the northernmost of the Balearic Islands. This Biosphere Reserve is an authentic oasis located in the Mediterranean, which seduces by its harmony and diversity, in addition to the possibility of contemplating a sky full of stars, in which the Milky Way appears at first sight.
In the words of Antonia Varela, Director of the Starlight Foundation: "We hope that this second edition will continue to make progress in the search for answers to the many challenges facing astrotourism, as well as in the defence of the night sky and the dissemination of astronomical knowledge, and we trust that this event will serve as a meeting point for all those who are part of the Starlight family".
Photo Ramón Silvela
Menorca has also obtained recognition as a Starlight Reserve, a protected natural area committed to the defence of the dark sky. The island is part of a Biosphere Reserve, a distinction granted 25 years ago in recognition of the fact that life is compatible with the conservation of a unique heritage and natural environment. The easternmost and northernmost island of the Balearic Islands surprises with the great richness and variety of its environment, which combines exceptional maritime landscapes with a traditional rural landscape full of history.
The different audits carried out on the firmament of Minorca confirm areas of the island of maximum darkness, where star observation is exceptional, as is the case of Macarella-Son Saura, Cavalleria-Cala El Pilar, Punta Nai, Cala Galdana, Santo Tomás, l'Albufera de S'Grau and Monte Toro, which are the areas of maximum darkness or core zone of the Starlight Reserve.
But Starlight Tourist Destinations must not only prove the quality of their night sky and the means of protection, but also adapt the infrastructures and activities related to the tourist offer and its integration with nature.
Among the wide range of options on offer in Minorca are stargazing routes along the Camí de Cavalls, a historical path that has been converted into a GR route that surrounds the whole island; learning about the ancient interpretation of the sky by visiting the prehistoric monuments of the Talayotic culture; or combining stargazing with nautical routes and adventure sports.
Photo Ramón Silvela
The Star Parks are places located in areas generally linked to municipalities that protect their night sky and that allow the development of observation, didactic, cultural or recreational activities related to astronomical events (passage of comets, eclipses of the moon and sun, alignment of planets, meteor showers, etc). These activities are usually led by amateur astronomers. In our case, at the Hotel Rural Morvedra Nou, it has been our own initiative that has led us to contact a specialist in the observation of the night sky.
These enclaves are "viewpoints open to the sky", promoted by administrations, organizations or private entities, with the aim of promoting among the interested population, the liking for the contemplation of the sky and the astronomical knowledge.
Our hotel is located in the area that most enjoys the lack of light pollution in the western part of the island. So much so that right in our hotel, the Consell Insular de Menorca has installed a light meter to measure the amount of darkness in the night sky. The result is, without a doubt, more than remarkable, since, to give an example, the Milky Way can be observed with the naked eye.
Map Fundació Foment Turisme Menorca
In this eagerness to broaden our general knowledge, and because of that constant drip of curiosity that anything arouses in us, we wanted to take advantage of this starry heritage that we have inherited from the universe. Our window to this sky is just above our heads, it has always been there, we just need to turn off the lights, lower the curtain and enjoy it.
We, the islanders, have been lucky enough to have enjoyed this wonder all our lives. We always remember those night-time excursions with friends to the beaches of Menorca to enjoy the company, nature and the night sky. Now, in our hotel, we have wanted to share with our visitors this special experience that fills our soul. Just as the magnitude of the cosmos shrinks us, it floods our tiny spirits with peace. It is just that point, that instant that remains engraved in the deepest part of us, when we feel connected with nature, as well as with the immensity of everything that exists. It is, without a doubt, an experience, and it cannot be otherwise. Only the experience of remaining still and latent, observing the star-filled sky, is when you can connect with the immensity, with your inner self, and it is then that your skin becomes bristly.
That is why, for this reason, we want to share this experience with you, this experience that connects us with our ancestors, because there is nothing older than raising your head to look at the sky.
Contact us to find out about our special dinners and we will give you all the details. We organize a very special dinner during the days of the Tears of San Lorenzo. In addition, throughout the summer we organize romantic experiences under the stars, with special dinners, as long as there is no full moon that makes it difficult to perceive the sky and its stars.
At the moment the activities are only available in Spanish.
Photo Ramón Silvela
The Perseids, popularly known as the St Lorenzo's Tears, are a prolific annual meteor shower during the month of August. On August 10, the Santoral de San Lorenzo is celebrated and it is precisely during these days that the Perseids are most frequent. In fact, it is between the 10th and 13th of this month when the rate of sightings is highest, and Perseids can be seen very frequently.
Although we perceive them as shooting stars, they are dust particles of about the size of a grain of sand left by comet Swift-Tuttle in its orbit around the sun. The light effect occurs when these granites pass through the Earth's atmosphere, through our planet, and volatilize. They do so at about 210,000 kilometres per hour.
The Perseids take their name from the constellation of Perseus, since by perspective, they appear to come from the direction of that constellation, although they have no real connection with it.
As we have said, in the enclave where our hotel is located, we enjoy one of the best situations in Minorca due to the low light pollution. Coming to have dinner with us with a meal made especially for the occasion and then coming with us to contemplate the Perseids with the explanations of our fabulous guide is, without a doubt, a luxury. We are waiting for you!
On National Geographic page you will find a sample of 11 mobile applications to learn more about the stars and the observation of our sky.
This other application is for use by professional photographers, but it is worth noting that the inventors of this tool have been Menorcans and that their fame has gone around the world. Here you will find more information.
On this other website you will be able to see in real time the quality of darkness in our hotel, because, as we have already said, there is a photometer installed in our establishment.
All the photographs that appear in this post are by the Minorcan photographer, and friend of the hotel, Ramón Silvela. Here you can visit his instagram profile.