Costa Rica is a favorable place to observe the Milky Way and can be positioned as a tourist destination for lovers of stars, planets, comets, galaxies and asteroids. That is why the ICT, the National Theater and the CIENTEC Foundation joined forces to promote interest in our night skies through the photographic exhibition “Astroturismo en Costa Rica 2023“.
The exhibition at the LópezEscarré Gallery, of the National Theater, in San José shows the winning photographs of the contest held last year by the Foundation for the National Center for Science and Technology (CIENTEC) under the theme “Inhabited Nights” and “Deep Sky”. It also includes photographs of the 2021 contest captured in different regions of the national territory by professional and amateur photographers.
“The darkness of the night sky to appreciate the stars is a scarce resource in some parts of the world and abundant in some regions of Costa Rica. We are innovating by providing an additional travel reason -astrotourism- so that both national and foreign tourists choose those areas of our country as their next tourist destination”, mentioned William Rodríguez, Minister of Tourism.
“The José Luis LópezEscarré Gallery of the National Theater of Costa Rica celebrates this event, which is an incentive to collaborate and be part of the noble efforts of the ICT to promote tourism in our country. The photographic exhibition has great documentary and aesthetic value, which in turn makes it an important promotional tool. As a cultural and tourist institution, we are very happy to diversify the theme that we show in this space and we hope to continue in alliance with the Costa Rican Tourism Institute to work on more projects that contribute to our reason for being”, commented Karina SalgueroMoya, general director of the National Theatre.
Bring science to the public
The CIENTEC Foundation is a non-profit organization. Its objective is to bring science to the public by carrying out educational and cultural activities. Currently, he has more than 35 years of experience carrying out various sky observation programs and has signed an agreement with Starlight, an international Spanish Foundation, to promote astrotourism in Costa Rica and Central America.
As a result of identifying the potential in this tourism niche, for 3 years CIENTEC has been working with different organizations on the “Astrotourism in Costa Rica” project. In association with Foto Club and sponsoring companies, 2 photographic contests have been held that have rewarded the best images of starry and deep sky panoramas in Costa Rica.
According to data from the StarLight Foundation and the CIENTEC Foundation, astrotourism is a modality of sustainable and responsible tourism that integrates the observation of the night and day sky, with the cultural dissemination of the regions, their biological diversity and all leisure activities and related care services. Both foundations indicate that in Costa Rica there is great potential for observing the sky, mainly in rural areas, which is why it is considered that it represents a new and great opportunity for tourism development in the country.
At the national level
“The profile of the Costa Rican astrotourist that we want to promote is one with a wide range of training, from primary school students to academic experts in the field, from basic to very high income, from city dwellers to inhabitants of the most rural places,” he says. Alejandra León, director of Cientec.
“At the national level, astrotourism has been growing in recent years, which has been observed in our experience from the events that CIENTEC periodically organizes, such as the Star Parties in the Central Valley, tours and camps in Palo Verde, Ensenada, Liberia. , Valle del Diquis, in Osa, among others; the emergence of other organizers of meteor shower observation events and astronomical phenomena, as well as the increased interest in acquiring and diversifying the supply of instruments for stellar observation and photography”, concludes León.
All the organizations that participate in this first exhibition of night photography of the Costa Rican skies aim to encourage national and foreign tourists and businessmen and tourism union organizations to grow and invest more in the observation and enjoyment of the wonders of the universe within our reach.
According to the Bortle Scale, for evaluating dark skies and light pollution, Costa Rica has many category 1 and 2 regions with some of the most transparent and cleanest skies in the world. Some category 1 zones are located in areas of Corcovado National Park and Santa Rosa National Park. Other regions defined as category 2 are located in Palo Verde National Park, Diriá National Park, Cuajiniquil, in Guanacaste; the north of the Caribbean, Tortuguero National Park, La Amistad National Park, Altos de Talamanca, Cahuita, Manzanillo, among others.
Due to the geographic position of Costa Rica, close to the equator, observers from other regions can appreciate both the northern and southern hemispheres of the sky, something impossible in other latitudes located further north.