One of the keys for understanding the birth of the Foundation are the aims of the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands. It is a Spanish public research institution that, since its foundation in 1982, has become an international benchmark. In a single place, it concerns itself with astrophysics, advanced scientific instrumentation, university education and the cultural dissemination of science.
In fact, the IAC observatories in Tenerife (Teide Observatory) and La Palma (Roque de los Muchachos Observatory) are the European Northern Observatory (ENO) and have installed telescopes and instruments from over sixty scientific institutions from nineteen countries. The Roque de los Muchachos Observatory has the largest and most advanced optical-infrared telescope in the world, the Gran Telescopio Canarias, designed and built by the IAC.
IAC Strategic Challenges
The IAC, since its establishment, has had three concerns that later led to the birth of Starlight:
The Scientific Dimension
To value and protect the quality of the starry sky as conditio sine qua non for astrophysical observation with telescopes while pursuing the best, highest quality science.
The Cultural Dimension
To spread public interest in astronomy, drawing attention to the value of the night sky, not only for astrophysical research, but also as a scientific, cultural and environmental heritage to be protected and passed on to future generations.
The Economic Dimension
To boost the economy through the contemplation and interpretation of the starry sky, promoting infrastructure, products and activities in the field of sustainable tourism which we call “star tourism”.
The IAC’s fight against light pollution in the night sky has been a constant, logical worry to the point that a national law was promoted, the “law of the sky” (Act 31/1988), a pioneering law in the protection of the sky in the islands of La Palma and Tenerife. It became the precedent for similar regulations in other areas of the planet. In addition, the Technical Office for the Protection of the Skies (OTPC) was also created, specializing in monitoring and advice in the field.