International Dark Sky Park
Reit im Winkl
The Winklmoosalm is a privately held 79-hectare site in the Chiemgauer Alps of extreme southeastern Bavaria, Germany. The land is formally under the jurisdiction of the municipality of Reit im Winkl, whose eastern edge reaches the international border with Austria. Its name derives in part from the German word for a seasonal mountain pasture (Alm), referring to transhumance, the movement of people and their livestock between fixed summer and winter pastures practiced in the Alps for thousands of years. Alms have become important for reasons other than transhumance, protecting large areas of unforested land useful for avalanche control and providing habitat for various endangered species of alpine flora.
Its location and geographic setting also make the Winklmoosalm a remarkably dark place at night, despite the relatively short distance to Salzburg, Austria (40 km; population 150,000). Unobstructed, 360-degree views reveal a night sky largely unspoiled by light pollution where a full array of faint phenomena can be seen. Interest in stargazing at the site began over a decade ago, and has grown into an industry served by a small tourism infrastructure. Visitors can participate in weekly nighttime astronomy events led by trained local staff, and have free rein around the Alm at night. It is a largely defensible location, both due to the mountainous topography and effective outdoor lighting policies in both the municipality and the Park itself.