Greater awareness of the impact of wasted light upon the night-time environment, wildlife and human health, as increasing evidence emerges that we tamper with our ancient day-night cycle at our peril. The night sky seen as a positive asset, leading to the establishment of dark-sky preserves such as Galloway Forest Park, the island of Sark, Exmoor and the Brecon Beacons National Park, to name but a few.
Brecon Beacons Exmoor Galloway Forest Sark Kielder Coll Showing interest: Cranborne Chase North York Moors NP New Forest NP South Downs NP Isle of Wight Lundy Bardsey Island Romney Marshes
Reasons for protecting the night sky Half of our environment has no protection in law and the current relighting of the UK with bright white LEDs threatens it further; The current upsurge of interest in astronomy should be encouraged – if we think that this planet is all that exists we get a very wrong view of our place in the scheme of things: “The natural world, our traditional source of direct insights, is rapidly disappearing. Modern city-dwellers cannot even see the stars at night. This humbling reminder of Man's place in the scheme of things, which human beings once saw ever twenty-four hours, is denied them. It's no wonder that people lose their bearings, that they lose track of who they really are, and what their lives are really about." Michael Crichton: Travels
Our disenchantment of the night through artificial lighting may appear, if it is noticed at all, as a regrettable but eventually trivial side-effect of contemporary life. That winter hour, though, up on the summit ridge with the stars falling plainly far above, it seemed to me that our estrangement from the dark was a great and serious loss. We are, as a species, finding it increasingly hard to imagine that we are part of something which is larger than our own capacity. We have come to accept a heresy of aloofness, a humanist belief in human difference, and we suppress wherever possible the checks and balances on us – the reminders that the world is greater than us or that we are contained within it. On almost every front, we have begun a turning away from a felt relationship with the natural world. Robert MacFarlane: The Wild Places
Light pollution is an increasing problem across the UK. It threatens ecologically sensitive habitats. With nearly a third of vertebrates and 60% of invertebrates being nocturnal, many species depend on darkness for survival. High levels of light pollution cause them to become disoriented, resulting in decreased reproduction and reduced foraging for food. Even in the countryside, unnecessary poorly aimed and overly bright public lighting and security lights can affect the day-night cycles, behaviour, feeding and mating patterns of bats, birds, moths, glow- worms and many other species. As Verlyn Klinkerborg wrote in National Geographic: …We’ve lit up the night as if it were an unoccupied country, when nothing could be further from the truth.
We are proud of our wonderful, star-strewn dark sky! Please can we have your IDS Place designation? Not so fast! You need more than just stars. An IDS Place needs a clear, well managed lighting management plan. Have a look at http://www.northumberlandnationalpark.org.uk/__data/asse ts/pdf_file/0010/459055/Lighting-Master-Plan-v2.pdf http://www.northumberlandnationalpark.org.uk/__data/asse ts/pdf_file/0010/459055/Lighting-Master-Plan-v2.pdf and be very, very afraid! No, only joking. It’s not rocket science and Mr Paterson (or other lighting consultant) can help you with it. Remember you've got to enforce it. Local councils, residents, farmers and whoever sends light in to the night need to be informed, and their lights need to be properly shielded fixtures. You’ll need a lighting audit and at least one lighting retrofit project. In addition, an IDS Place must offer public access to the night sky and create an outreach program to educate and celebrate the value preserving the glory of the night sky. Those really nice people at the Campaign for Dark Skies might have some useful info, as well as those who’ve already gone down the IDS path at Galloway, South Downs, Brecon Beacons and others.
How long will a designation take? About a year in most cases. Are you willing to organise a team and bear the costs? They vary according to the nature of you area. Community, Park, or Reserve? An application must be submitted or nominated by at least two IDA members..What are the benefits? Increased number of visitors to your area, especially in winter, and more so if you have designated viewing areas with facilities, and possibly an observatory. Local astro societies may be willing to help, publicise or even run them for you! Wildlife will benefit, as will the environment in general, as better lighting means less energy use and less pollution, and more local awareness.
visitwales.com stargazing in our clear skies Cunard astronomy cruise The rise of astro-tourism
Tranquillity is a special quality of an AONB’s natural environment, with a positive influence on people’s physical and psychological well-being. It contributes to the rural economy by attracting visitors and supporting tourism based industry. It is an educational resource for local schools, and peripheral enterprises such as telescope hire, star camps and astronomy-based retail have all been successful in night-sky-protected areas.
First steps Influence local councils and educate about the way light travels. Inform the populace about what you intend to do – leaflets, press articles, personal contact via meetings and astro events – enlist help of local astronomers. Educate about the need for sensitive lighting and why brighter lights are not better lights. Ensure your own lights comply!
Thank you Bob Mizon www.britastro.org/dark-skies