Writer Jac P. Thijsse said the once deserted Boschplaat was a “naked part of the Netherlands”. De Bosch, later called Boschplaat, received the status of a European nature reserve in 1972. It was a close call, as there had been initiatives with the goal to develop the land for agricultural purposes, following the example of Texel. Another attractive option was to use the Boschplaat as a training area for fighter planes. In the end the cultural role fulfilled by the Boschplaat is that of ‘nature’. The Boschplaat hadn’t been untouched for years, as ditches had been dug, a sand dike built, various structures erected, and a field station equipped. Since the 1920’s birdwatchers had been keeping an eye out, and the Boschplaat was visited by various scientists. A new status followed in 1979, that of Natura-2000 area. In 2015 another title was added to the list, that of Dark Sky Park, a place where we can learn to see in the dark. We look up. Because light doesn’t block our view here, the wandering eye almost automatically starts to navigate with the stars. Spend the night thinking about the newest machinery that serves us: photometers, binoculars, periscopes, GPS, LOFAR… Listen in on the ‘Large Ear’ of Burum (a satellite ground station), that not only listens to the beginning of the universe, but also provides solid data about soil movement and possible earthquakes. We wonder what a map of the darkest places in the world looks like.
Guide: Marcel Minnaert (1893-1970)
Minnaert was born in the Belgium city of Ghent; he started out as a biologist before switching to astrophysics, but was always a teacher. Minnaert was a passionate advocate of Flemish independence, Esperanto, pacifism and Marxism, but most of all an engaged scientist. He is celebrated as an astronomer , specifically as cartographer of the dark side of the moon, for which he is honored with a crater bearing his name. But perhaps his best known work is De natuurkunde van ‘t vrije veld (3 volumes, 1937-1942), a guidebook to phenomena of physics that can be observed in the field. This lexicon provides joyful insight to the inquisitive mind in the open air.