By Anja Opitz

    The space. Infinite expanses. It’s the year 2022 and we’re off to explore the stars…

    Luckily, Berliners don’t need light years to do this, like they did to occupy the spaceship Enterprise, and they don’t have to leave planet earth either: just 70 kilometers from the capital, in the Westhavelland Nature Park, they can see their fill of the stars.

    “There is no industry and no trade here and the area is very sparsely populated,” explains Thomas Becker (44), an employee of the nature park administration. “The light pollution is so low that you can see the Milky Way with the naked eye at night.”

    Therefore, in February 2014, the nature park was named Germany’s first star park by the International Dark Sky Association.

    There are ten official observation sites on the 1,380 square kilometer area, but any spot with an unobstructed view can also be used to admire the nocturnal twinkle.

    Good to know: The darkest region lies between the towns of Parey, Joachimshof, Dreetz and Kriele. It is important: “Since it is a nature reserve, the paths must not be left, wild animals must not be disturbed and plants must not be damaged,” emphasizes Becker. “Open fire and camping are prohibited.”

    Observing the transition from the sunset to the deep black night sky on the Gülper Havel is a fascinating natural spectacle

    Observing the transition from the sunset to the deep black night sky on the Gülper Havel is a fascinating natural spectacle Photo: picture alliance / Patrick Pleul

    If you don’t want to drive home after observing the sky, but want to spend the night in the Westhavelland Star Park, you can pitch your tent at the campsites at the Gülpe sports field or at Lake Kleßen. There is also an official swimming area there.

    There are no opening hours, access is free – star seekers can simply come and be amazed.

    Helpful tips for the Westhavelland Star Park:

    ► Find out about the sunset and start observing an hour and a half after. Then the sky is completely dark.

    ► Avoid looking at bright lights while observing.

    ► Red light hardly interferes with night vision. Simply stick the flashlight with red foil.

    Observing the transition from the sunset to the deep black night sky on the Gülper Havel is a fascinating natural spectacle

    Observing the transition from the sunset to the deep black night sky on the Gülper Havel is a fascinating natural spectacle Photo: picture alliance / ZB

    ► Familiarize yourself with the night sky by observing with the naked eye. The eyes need up to 15 minutes to fully adjust to the darkness.

    ► When the moon is full, the starry sky is comparable to that in a big city – so it’s not worth it!

    If you don’t want to drive to an observation point on your own, you can book a guided tour. Thomas Becker, for example, offers the Night hike “Experience Darkness” in which he explains the most important constellations, the planetary system and the Milky Way and shows various celestial objects.

    Hobby astronomer Thomas Becker

    Hobby astronomer Thomas Becker Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentral

    The Berliner, who has been passionate about astronomy since he was ten, enthuses: “We can see around 2,500 stars here with the naked eye; in large cities like Berlin, there are perhaps 100 more because of the light pollution.”

    Go for the telescopes! Astro meeting 2022

    The 11th West Havelland AstroTreff (WHAT) will take place on the sports field in Gülpe from August 26th to 28th. Overnight guests pay 12 euros per pitch and night and must register at [email protected]

    On Saturday from 4 p.m. is a public visitor day. Everyone is invited to visit the event without registration and free of charge, to listen to the lectures and in the evening to look through the many telescopes of the star friends who have traveled from all over Germany.

    ttn-27