Cumbria's dark skies allow us to see the natural wonder of the stars, but are also critical for the health of nocturnal wildlife. Sadly light pollution in Cumbria is increasing each year, threatening to obscure our view of the stars and blinding and confusing animals so they can’t feed or find a mate.
We need urgent action now to stop light pollution so we're leading a project to gain ‘Dark Skies Reserve’ status in Cumbria by 2022. Stargazers and wildlife lovers… please help.
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Dark skies are not just important for stargazers and astronomers, but also for wildlife. Around 50% of animals are nocturnal – following the light of the moon and stars so light pollution can disrupt their feeding and breeding behaviour.
An estimated 85% (possibly higher) of the UK population has never seen the Milky Way due to the rapid rise of light pollution over the last 50 years. Globally, coverage of the earth’s surface in light pollution has been rising at a staggering rate of 2% every year for the last 4 years. (Watch our outdoor lighting slideshow for easy tips for saving our dark skies.)
Dark skies are integral to the tranquillity and distinctiveness of the great landscapes of the Lake District and Cumbria. They are important to our wellbeing, and for the feeding, breeding and pollinating habits of nocturnal animals. Our aim for achieving Dark Sky Reserve status in Cumbria is two-fold: Firstly, to recognise, through accreditation from an international body, an important environmental feature of its unique landscape. Secondly, to help ensure it remains so (and improves) for future generations. We are doing this by working with communities, businesses, and organisations within and outside the national park to fulfil the requirements of accreditation and delivering outreach activities that raise awareness of the issues and explore the wonders of a dark starry sky.
This isn’t about ridding the landscape of all lighting. People need lighting at night for many reasons. But we can make it work so much better for ourselves and the environment. Thoughtful consideration to selection and installation of light fixtures, and use of energy efficient technologies can both reduce our carbon footprint and save money. For a good summary of light pollution issues see CPRE's 2016 report: Night Blight: Mapping England’s light pollution and dark skies.
We believe that the Lake District offers some of the most spectacular and precious skyscapes in England and we want you to join us on an interstellar adventure.
Download our Dark Sky Discovery Pack and get started today!
For more information see our Dark Skies Blog page, Stargazing tips and Outdoor Lighting Tips in the tabs at the top of this page.
Contact Dark Skies Officer Johanna Korndorfer, email [email protected] or phone 01539 720788.