Welcome to the integrated web portal for UNESCO’s Astronomy and World Heritage Initiative, supported by the International Working Group on Astronomy and World Heritage and by the International Astronomical Union through its Commission C4 on World Heritage and Astronomy. The Portal to the Heritage of Astronomy exists to raise awareness of the importance of astronomical heritage worldwide and to facilitate efforts to identify, protect and preserve such heritage for the benefit of humankind, both now and in the future.
Outstanding Astronomical Heritage: a new IAU List
The IAU has begun to compile its own list of astronomical heritage sites that are outstanding in the history of astronomy but are not necessarily suitable for inscription on the World Heritage List. The period from the European Renaissance to the middle of the 20th century was an extremely rich one for the history of astronomy and the initial list focuses on sites of this type. Examples:
NEW Uraniborg and Stellaeburgum, Sweden
NEW La Plata Observatory, Argentina
We have recently introduced movable object case studies in order to document items such as artefacts and portable instruments in a more suitable format. Examples:
NEW Nebra Sky Disc, Germany
Ishango Bone, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Full case studies, structured as sections of draft dossiers, aim to highlight issues that might arise if State Parties were to prepare nomination dossiers highlighting the astronomical values of the properties concerned. Examples:
Short case studies follow the format used in the ICOMOS–IAU Thematic Study on Astronomical Heritage (see right). Examples:
Jantar Mantar at Jaipur, India
Sydney Observatory, Australia
Finding relevant information
This portal supports UNESCO’s Astronomy and World Heritage Initiative (AWHI) through the provision of thematic essays, case studies and general information, for example on preparing a nomination dossier for the World Heritage List.
Click on the different parts of this diagram to find out more about a certain category of astronomical heritage.
See our Dark Skies Information page for further information about International Dark Sky Reserves, Starlight Reserves, and other Dark Sky Places.