For millenia people have been inspired by the dark night sky. Its sheer natural beauty is captivating.
On a clear night you can gaze up and see thousands of stars, the planets of our solar system as well the edge of our own galaxy the Milky Way. Increasingly this scene is becoming rare, with many places in the UK experiencing unacceptable levels of light pollution. Artifical light, mainly generated by cities and towns, produces an orange glow that may be visable many miles from its source.
Light pollution not only disturbs our view of the night sky – energy consumed by unecessary lighting is an economic drain and may generate unwanted carbon emissions.
Dark night skies in Scilly
Dark night skies enhance the islands’ peace and tranquility and add significant value to their national designations.
Light pollution on Scilly is minimal due to the islands’ small concentration of settlements and its distance from the mainland, although even Scilly is not exempt from it. The map below shows that there has been an encroachment on the dark night sky in Scilly since 1993, with increasing light pollution levels on St Mary’s and southern Tresco.
Satellite Imagery for Scilly, 1993. Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE)
Satellite Imagery for Scilly, 2000. Campaign to Protect Rural England.
KEY- These maps were created from pixels representing a square kilometer. They are a colour representation of satellite measurements of artificial light at night. The light is measured on a range from 0 to 225; 0 means the satellite is detecting no light at that pixel and 255 means the satellites detector is saturated with light.
The AONB Partnership has worked alongside the Dark Sky Discovery Partnership to designate areas in Scilly as Dark Sky Discovery Sites (DSDS).
These are local sites, nominated for their outstanding views of the night’s sky and which are accessible for all.
Dark sky events
Look out for stargazing walks and events on Scilly.
As part of the Isles of Scilly AONB Landscape Monitoring Project, which was formed in collaboration with the Cornwall and Tamar Valley AONB Partnerships, a Dark Sky Quality Meter will be used to measure light pollution levels within the AONB with the help of local volunteers. This monitoring of the dark night skies helps to build up a picture, over time, of tranquility levels within the AONB.
Lighting Guide for the Isles of Scilly
The Council of the Isles of Scilly applied for £658 from the AONB’s Sustainable Development Fund in 2011-2012 to produce Lighting Guidance for the Isles of Scilly. The Lighting Guide for the Isles of Scilly informs and guides the choice of suitable external lighting for domestic, business and commercial properties to help mitigate against the effects of light pollution. Read more…
Download the Lighting Guide for the Isles of Scilly
Wonderful imagery taken by Graham Gaunt of the dark night sky over St Agnes: click here to watch the video.
www.cpre.org.uk– Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) work towards protecting the wider countryside, including minimising the effects from light pollution.
www.britastro.org– The British Astronomical Association’s Campaign for Dark Skies aims to preserve and restore the beauty of the night’s sky by campaigning against light pollution and bad lighting practices.
www.theilp.org.uk– The Institute of Lighting Professionals have guidance on how to reduce light pollution through best practice lighting.