Kaposvar best practice
The Zselic area situated south of Kaposvár (Hungary) is a generous gift of nature. The gently flowing springs and brooks in the woods, the lakes and ponds hidden in valleys and small villages have an innocent beauty in the eyes of visitors. The most untouched part of the Zselic -almost 9.000 hectares- has been a nature conservation area since 1976, being home to various species of protected plants and animals. The Zselic is one of the least light polluted areas in Europe and in 2009 was awarded the title International Starry Sky Park. The park is situated in a sparsely populated neighbourhood and the local buildings were designed to have low light pollution impact. All who love to gaze at the clear, unobstructed night sky will certainly enjoy the unrivalled experience of seeing the thousands of twinkling stars in the Milky Way from these tranquil hills.
To enable the public to enjoy this magic of nature, a large-scale development of tourist facilities including several structures, the Star Park of Zselic had been completed by the summer of 2015. Long-cherished dream of astronomists was matched in this project with the ambition of the management of the forests in Zselic to create new tourist-targeted facilities. A main building of 840 square metres was constructed to house the observatory, a look-out tower, a constellation park and several information points in the forest. The complex offers unforgettable experiences to all visitors who are interested in developing scientific understanding of nature and the universe surrounding it. Under favourable weather conditions, visitors can enlist the help of an on-site expert to observe and monitor the moon, the various planets of the solar system and the solar activity. The artefacts and equipment in the observatory offer an insight into the scientific and cultural background of the starry sky, regardless of the weather. The permanent exhibition of the complex showcases a unique collection of meteorites. At the Zselic Starry Sky Park stargazing night walks, evening programmes and special observation events are frequently organised and these are immensely popular with the public. Visitors may learn about the natural treasures of the Zselic region, the forest and water habitats and the wonders of the sky, such as the Milky Way and the view of zodiac lights (which are not at all or only barely visible from light pollution areas) during the day and at night, within the framework of individual, family or school programmes.
There is nothing quite as magical and breathtaking as watching the stars illuminate the beautiful clear skies at night. This experience is also available for those living with disabilities – sign language interpretation can be provided for the deaf and the equipment used for presentation is adapted for the visually impaired too.