Dark Sky® Team

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Apólonia Rodrigues

President of Dark Sky Association

Apolónia Rodrigues, born in 1973 in Aveiro, has a degree in Tourism Management and Planning from Aveiro University, is a champion of animal welfare with special affection for the “little felines”, she has always fallen 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, is currently the President of the Dark Sky® Association, and President of the Rede de Turismo de Aldeia do Alentejo. 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. 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.

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Miguel Claro

Official Astrophotographer

Born in 1977 in the north of Portugal, and today based in Lisbon, Miguel Claro is a portuguese professional photographer, author and science communicator in the astronomy field, promoting the scientific divulgation of astronomy through public talks, stargazing sessions, articles, exhibitions and workshops of astrophotography. Over the past few years he has specialized in astronomical photography of landscapes or Skyscapes, a concept that makes a connection between the Night Sky and the elements on Earth, valuing the architectural heritage, cultural and landscaping, as well as enhancing in an educational and scientific way, the Universe, which is full of stars but nowadays stays unnoticed to the most people. He is the official astrophotographer of Dark Sky Alqueva Reserve — the first “Starlight Tourism Destination” in the world, located in the eastern part of Portugal’s south–central Alentejo Province. Is an ESO Photo Ambassador from the European Southern Observatory (ESO Gallery by M.Claro), a Space.com Contributor and a TWAN photographer member – The World at Night – representing Portugal (TWAN gallery by MClaro). Is also jury president of the international competition for night sky photography “Photo Nightscape Award – PNA” held annually in Paris, France. It has been a lecturer in two editions of TEDx, in Lisbon and Caldas da Rainha, and a speaker at CEDIC´17 “Central European Deepsky Imaging Conference” in Austria. He collaborates regularly with National Geographic (Portugal), Astronomy (USA), Astronomy Now (UK) and Ciel et Espace (France).

Between 2009 and 2013 was member of the European Consulting Committee of Eureka Tourism.

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Nuno Santos

Astronomer and Coordinator of the Observatory

Nuno Pereira Santos, born in Évora in 1983, soon became interested in Astronomy. The first contact “seriously” came at the Gabriel Pereira Secondary School, where he was a dynamist of the school’s astronomy nucleus. Even as a high school student, he was 2nd in the 2004/2005 National Astronomical Olympiad, and 1st in the 2006/2007 edition.

Graduated in Physics from the University of Évora, he participated in the TRANSIT project of Évora Geophysics Center in collaboration with the University of Porto CAUP, where he developed observations and modeling extra-solar planets between 2009 and 2013. In parallel, he developed dissemination activities Science and Astronomy, and also collaborated with the Border Observatory, Estremoz Science Center with the Alqueva Lake Observatory, and is currently the resident astronomer of the Official Dark Sky® Alqueva Observatory.

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Rebecca Slade

Sustainability and Activities Coordinator

Rebecca Slade is the specialist in Sustainable Tourism and Ecology of Dark Sky® Alqueva. Graduated in Ecology and Wildlife Conservation and Masters in Tourism and Hospitality Management from the University of Bournemouth in the UK.

Her passion for nature and the environment has led her to various parts of the world, working on projects that promote the development of the local community with minimal negative impacts on the environment. After the Marine Conservation and Research in Greece and Madagascar to witness the battle against poaching in Mozambique and the Conservation of Butterflies and Subsistence Development in Cambodia, he returned to Portugal to help preserve our starry skies and encourage sustainability in Alentejo.