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13-04-2024 10:03

Welcome speech by the Commissioner for the Environment, Ms Antonia Theodosiou, at the “Cosmonautics Day Celebration” at the Cyprus Planetarium, yesterday

On the occasion of the International Astronautics Day I would like to congratulate you for the excellent organisation of today’s events and above all for this wonderful work that is being done here at the Planetarium that puts Cyprus on the map of astronomy and education in environmental and scientific matters.

The humanity only realised the magnitude of climate change (climate chaos in contemporary terms) when we were able to see the earth from above in the 1960’s. It was only then that the unity of the planet was perceived, but also its fragility. Unfortunately, scientists and researchers were not taken into consideration in political decisions at that time, and today the planet is paying the price.

The fact that the Cyprus Planetarium invests both time and money in scientists and researchers, and invests in quality state-of-the-art equipment so as to promote research and science education, love and respect for nature and peace, is praiseworthy.

Taking the above into account, I feel particularly honoured that a constructive partnership between the Office of the Commissioner for the Environment and 10.10 Cosmos, the Interstellar Institute and the Cyprus Planetarium is launched today, a cooperation to which I look forward.

Cyprus’ dark sky is a privilege for our country, and we need to make targeted efforts to protect it from a phenomenon of the modern world, the light pollution, i.e. the diffuse brightness of the night sky with excessive and incorrect artificial lighting.

Light pollution has adverse effects on many levels:

  • On the environment, in particular, in fauna and flora (disorientation of animals, effects on physiology and behaviour), with indirect effects on ecosystems and water resources, as well as through increased energy consumption that entails increased use of fossil fuels, increased greenhouse gas emissions and depletion of energy resources.
  • On the economy due to the waste of energy and the related financial cost. 
  • On astronomy, with the complete disappearance of celestial objects from the night sky.
  • On the health of people presented in the form of various symptoms such as headaches and insomnia as well as a reduction in the ability to see at night.
  • On the quality of life and growth of people: People are cut off from the sky, from the beauty of the constellations and celestial phenomena that have been a source of inspiration for the sciences, literature, and the arts throughout time.

We could therefore join forces through innovative initiatives of this magnitude, such as the Planetarium, using them as tools for educating citizens. Such initiatives could also form the basis for shaping our policies, adapted to available scientific data. The accurate and scientific information that is so artfully offered at the Planetarium for research purposes and for educating citizens through entertainment, I am confident that it will soon bear fruit!

Behind every great project lies a great vision. And here at the Cyprus Planetarium, which is the largest in the eastern Mediterranean, the vision of Professor Zarenkov and his decision to implement it in Cyprus, honours our country. The reward for any visionary is to witness the new generation embrace his/her work, and this work to have an impact on society. The tens of thousands of children who visited the Cyprus planetarium within only 10 months since its establishment are a tangible testimony that even in a highly competitive environment, quality and professionalism survive and flourish.

In concluding my greeting and since I am in such a setting, I wish to refer to the appeal for peace made by Yuri Gagarin at the darkest of moments in the armament race, the Soviet cosmonaut who, on April 12, 1961, became the first man to travel to space: “Orbiting the Earth in the spaceship, I saw how beautiful our planet is. People, let us preserve and increase this beauty; not destroy it!”

My warmest congratulations again to the visionaries, the scientific team, and the management of the Cyprus Planetarium. Thank you.