Dark skies – or are they?

Food for thought? Image courtesy of Frederick Tappissier/AVEX

We all love our national parks for many things – two of which is peace and solitude. Where we leave behind the grubby fingerprints of man and all it entails, including noise pollution.

But what about light pollution?

When was the last time you saw thousands of stars on a clear night?

Well, the Peak District National Park Authority would like our help in identifying where are to be located the darkest skies within their boundaries.

Peak District Dark Skies

There’s not much time left, if you’d like to contribute – and it’s easy to complete a survey (more so if you’re wild camping).

All you have to do is note your grid reference from a map and select which diagram (from a selection) best fits what you can see of the constellation Orion.

This whole light pollution thing did get me thinking – where are the darkest skies I’ve had the pleasure of viewing when spending a night out on the hill?

Only recently, I noted how many stars I could see when roughing it out in the White Peak – yet, up on the high and wild moors of the Dark Peak there were much less. And I didn’t think the orange glow from the cities of Sheffield and Manchester would make much of a difference.

Clearly they do.

Via the following link, you can view some amazing images of the UK and it’s light pollution – along with a file to use in Google Earth:

UK Light Pollution Map

Little over or under a hundred years ago, folk like you and me could look up into a clear night sky and see many hundreds, if not thousands of stars than we see today – well, for most of us suburbanites.

Our National Parks have endeavoured to keep things as they are, be it preservation, regeneration and so on for many years. And, to a large degree we see a window into another time – a living natural museum of how a landscape once appeared and was lived in.

So, what about the night sky?

Take a look at the links above – you’ll likely be very surprised at some of the results….


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