South Downs leads the way
Astronomers at the Clanfield Observatory are celebrating after the South Downs National Park was recently announced as the world’s newest International Dark Sky Reserve.
The new reserve is the second in England and only the eleventh to be named in the world, and the designation comes after national park ranger Dan Oakley, who lives in Portsmouth, and volunteers spent three years mapping the quality of night skies across the park.
Local authorities have also worked to replace 2,700 street lamps across the national park with LED lights which direct light downwards and reduce light pollution.
The move to create a dark sky reserve was backed by more than more than 1,300 people who signed a ‘dark skies pledge’.
The South Downs National Park Authority will use its planning role to protect the skies above the park as well as the landscape on the ground, which is good news for astronomers across the local area.
Dan Oakley, South Downs National Park ranger said: “With the south of England under threat from losing its last few patches of properly dark skies this is a statement that the skies of the South Downs are worth protecting. With two million people living within 5 km of the National Park, the reserve will be one of the most accessible in the world and certainly one of the most cared for.”