24 -29 October 2022 in Fuencaliente de la Palma, Spain

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Antonia M. Varela

Managing Director of the Starlight Foundation since January 2019, PhD in Astrophysics and Researcher at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) since 1988. She developed her doctoral thesis in the field of Extragalactic Astrophysics at the IAC and at the Institut d’Astrophysique de Paris. She is a member of the IAC staff as a Senior Engineer, a member of the IAC Sky Quality Group since its creation and of the Star Formation Group. The Sky Quality Group is responsible for positioning the observatories of the Canary Islands among the best places in the world for astronomical observation.

It has published over a hundred publications in scientific journals and contributions to national and international congresses, as well as more than 700 contributions to popular science and the press. She has participated in 22 national and international R&D projects. She has refereed articles for international Astrophysics Research journals and is a project advisor for the National Agency for Evaluation and Foresight (Agencia Nacional de Evaluación y Prospectiva). Some outstanding works have been the site selection for the Gran Telescopio de Canarias (GTC 10.4m) and the participation in the site selection committees of the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), and more recently in the site selection of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT).

She has received the Research Career Award from the Excelentísimo Ayuntamiento de Santa Cruz de Tenerife in March 2019; Award for her work in the cultural dissemination of astronomy, in the protection of the night sky and tourist quality of territories in July 2019 by the UNESCO Geopark of Villuercas-Ibores-Jara; and she has recently obtained the Science and Innovation Award from the Revista Más Mujer in March 2020.

Advisor and auditor of 19 Starlight Reserves and Tourist Destinations, sky quality certification granted by the Starlight Foundation and endorsed by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the International Astronomical Union (IAU) among other international organisations; director and teacher of numerous courses for Starlight Guides, Monitors and Auditors. The Starlight Foundation has recently won the LuxLife Global Hospitality Awards for the defence of astrotourism 2019 and the I FiturNext 2020 Challenge Award for its high replicability and positive impact on local economic development, an award obtained from among more than 250 best practices from over 50 countries.

She has more than 32 years of teaching experience in university courses, starting 22 years ago as a professor of Astronomy at the University for Adults and Seniors of the University of La Laguna, implementing the Astronomy Tourism module ten years ago. This programme has received several awards for the Human Values Award from the Cabildo de Tenerife 2007 and the Solidarity with the Elderly Award from the Government of the Canary Islands in the category of Non-Profit Institutions or Entities 2013, coinciding with the Day of the Elderly.

She is a science communicator and since 2010 she has also been Head of the Multimedia Service of the IAC. She actively participates in conferences and courses related to gender equality in science and technology, is part of the group of Women Scientists and Technologists of the Canary Islands nominated by the Government of the Canary Islands, member of Mujeres Influyentes de Canarias by the Spanish Women Talent Foundation and of the group of Mujeres Influyentes Charter 100.

She is a member of the International Astronomical Union (IAU), of the Spanish Society of Astronomy (SEA), of the Spanish Network of Studies on Light Pollution (REECL), Coordinator of the Climate and Air Quality Commission of the Climate Change Observatory of the Government of the Canary Islands, she leads with the Starlight Foundation the Working Group on Science Tourism/astro-tourism of Affiliate Members of the UNWTO constituted in September 2009.

She is currently a member of the Scientific Committee organising the Dark & Quiet Sky Conference promoted by COPUOS (United Nations Committee for the Protection of Outer Outer Space) and co-chair of the Working Group Dark Sky Oases.

Rafel Rebolo

Director of the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC).  CSIC Physics Research Professor. Graduated at  University of Granada in 1984 and obtained his doctorate in astrophysics from the University of La Laguna in 1987.  Head of the IAC Research Division between 1997 and 1999.  Since 2013 serves as  IAC director. He has carried out  research projects in cosmology, in stellar physics and exoplanets. Co-author of over 400  research articles   with more than 40,000 citations in the scientific literature.

Co-discoverer in 1995 of the first brown dwarfs (objects with properties intermediate between stars and giant planets of which there are tens of billions in our galaxy) and  free-floating giant extrasolar planets in 2000. Obtained empirical evidence in 1999 of the physical connection between supernovae and black holes. He has led experimental research of the cosmic microwave background  at Teide Observatory. Co-director of the high-precision spectrograph “ESPRESSO” for detecting exo-Earths  with the 8 m VLT telescopes in Chile. Co-investigator of the Planck and Euclid space missions (ESA), and member of the Board of the 10.4 m Gran Telescopio Canarias (GTC), the Cherenkov  Telescope Array and the European Solar Telescope. He was a member of the science  group of the  39 m ELT telescope,

He is corresponding member of the Royal Academy of  Sciences of Spain, Honorary Academician of the Academy of Sciences of the Region of Murcia, Doctor Honoris Causa from the Polytechnic University of Cartagena. Member of the Max Planck Society and External Professor at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg. He was awarded the Iberdrola Prize of Science and Technology, the Jaime I Research Prize,  the Canary Islands Research Prize, the Jules Janssen Prize of the French Astronomical Society and, more recently, the  Spanish National Prize for Scientific Research.

Juan Carlos Pérez Arencibia

Ana Ulla

Garik Israelian

Garik Israelian has completed his PhD in 1993 in Armenia. He  worked as a lecturer and researcher in Utrecht (Netherlands), Brussels (Belgium), and Sydney (Australia). Since 1997 he has worked at the Institute of Astrophysics, Canary Islands (IAC). Israelian has published scientific articles on subjects ranging from the discovery of extrasolar planets planets to the properties of low mass x-ray binaries with black holes and neutron stars.

From 2001 to 2003 he gave 30 hours post-graduate course on Radiation Transfer, Stellar Atmospheres and Spectroscopy at the Universities of Tokyo (Japan) and Geneva (Switzerland). In 2011, Garik Israelian has founded the Starmus Festival which was awarded the title of  “ The Best Science Festival in the World” at the international congress of Science Festivals in Shanghai (2018). Nominated by Swiss Academy of SciencesMichel Mayor (Co-laureate of the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physics) and Nuno Santos were awarded the 2010 Victor Ambartsumian International Prize for Astrophysics, Physics or Mathematics. In 2014, Israelian received The Canary Islands Gold Medal awarded by the Government of Canary Islands. On 20 June 2016 the International Astronomical Union and the Minor Planet Center officially renamed asteroid 21057(1991 GJ8) to Garik Israelian in honor of Israelian. The citation was written by astronomer Joel Parker and Queen guitarist Brian May, and presented by them at the Starmus Festival III.

Maribel Aguilar

José Jiménez

Apolónia Rodrígues

Apolónia Rodrigues has a degree in Tourism Management and Planning from Aveiro University and she has always been in love with the challenges in creating new destinations and future trends in sustainable tourism. She started her professional career in the Tourism Region of Évora in 1998, where she implemented several projects until 2007. Founder and creator of the destination brand Dark Sky® and Dark Sky® Alqueva, she is currently the President of the Dark Sky® Association, and President of the Genuineland – Village Tourism. She also coordinates the European Network of Places of Peace since 2010. Between 2010 and 2016 she was co-leader of the Task Force Indicators (NIT). NIT was created by NECSTouR – Network of European Regions for Sustainable and Competitive Tourism, Brussels, Belgium. Between 2014 and 2016 she was a member of ETIS POOL of Experts, a group created by DG Grow, European Commission, to develop and test the European System of Tourism Indicators for sustainable practices and destination management. Between 2005 and 2014, Apolónia was a member of the Tourism Sustainability Group (TSG), a group that created the Agenda for the European Sustainable and Competitive Tourism, where she took on the co-leadership of the Working Indicators Group. This group was set up by DG Grow of the European Commission. Between 2009 and 2013 she was also a member of the Eureka European Tourism Advisory Committee.

International Awards and Distinctions: In 2007 her European Network of Village Tourism project was honored with the Ulysses Prize of the United Nations World Tourism Organization. In 2016, IDA awarded Apolónia with the Dark Sky Defender Award. In 2020 in addition to The Bizz Award given by Worldcob, she received the distinction of World Businessperson and by the ACQ5 Global Awards the distinction of Gamechanger of the Year. With her Dark Sky® Alqueva project, it received the Runner Up award from the Ulysses Prize in 2013, and in 2019 the Bronze CTW Chinese Welcome Award. In the same year, Dark Sky® Alqueva received a Tourism Oscar from the World Travel Awards as Europe’s Responsible Tourism Award 2019.

In the year of 2020 in the middle of this pandemic situation, Dark Sky® Alqueva and Dark Sky® Association received other different distinctions. In February, Dark Sky® Alqueva was awarded a Corporate Travel Awards, as Europe’s Leading Tourist Destination 2020, followed by a distinction awarded by the Business Intelligence Group, the Sustainability Leadership Award 2020. In October, Dark Sky® Alqueva became part of the Sustainable Destinations Global Top 100 by Green Destinations, and in November, it received the ACQ5 Global Awards in the category of Company of the Year (Astrotourism) and received three Tourism Oscars Awards from the World Travel Awards, such as Europe’s Responsible Tourism Award 2020Europe’s Leading Tourism Project 2020 and World’s Leading Tourism Project 2020.

In 2020 the Dark Sky® Association also received The Bizz and The Peak of Success, given by Worldcob and an ACQ5 Country Awards, in the category of Portugal – Best Practice Operator of the Year (Astrotourism).

Susana Malón

CEO at Lumínica Ambiental.

Degree in Physical Sciences specialized in lighting and light pollution. Master’s Degree in Astronomy and Astrophysics, Master’s Degree in Environmental Engineering.

For more than 15 years, she has been carrying out energy and outdoorlight audits, drafting of projects and their management plans, as well as legislation in this area. It also carries out assessments and measurements of the night sky quality (light pollution, seeing, transparency and cloud cover) for the management of this pollutant and obtaining certifications such as Reserve and Tourist Destinations Starlight, and other projects related to the preservation of the night sky and the development of Astrotourism.

In early 2012, she founded Lumínica Ambiental, a technical office specializing in outdoor lighting and light pollution, with which she won:

  • “The first Emprendeverde award” from the Biodiversity Foundation of the Ministry of the Environment of Spain.
  • The Official College of Physicist recognized her as “Physics of Excellence” taking part of the Network of Innovation and Professional Excellence in Physical Sciences and Technologies.
  • The Association of Young Entrepreneurs of Alava (AJEBASK ALAVA) recognized her with the award for the “Entrepreneur revelation of 2012”.
  • The Association of Professional Women and Entrepreneurs of Alava (AMPEA) awarded the award to the “Young businesswoman of 2013”.

Salvador Bará

Salvador Rivas

Juan Antonio Belmonte

Juan Antonio BELMONTE Avilés is a Research Professor who holds a PhD in Astrophysics from the University of La Laguna (1989), where he has also studied Egyptian hieroglyps. He develops his work at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC), where he carries out research in exoplanetology and cultural astronomy.

He has been Director of the Science and Cosmos Museum of Tenerife (MCC, 1995-2000), President of the European Society for Astronomy in Culture (SEAC, 2005-2011), the International Society for Archaeoastronomy and Astronomy in Culture (ISAAC, 2017-2020) and the Time Allocation Committee (CAT) of the Canary Islands Observatories (2003-2012). He received in 2012 the “Carlos Jaschek” Award in Cultural Astronomy for his contribution to the field.

Since IYA2009, he has been deeply involved in the development of the “Astronomy and World Heritage” initiative within UNESCO and the IAU. Author or Editor or more than 20 books, since August 2021, he is President of the IAU Commission C4 “World Heritage and Astronomy”.