Cumbria has some of the darkest skies in the country, where people are still able to see the spectacular natural wonders of the stars above. That’s why Friends of the Lake District are leading work to gain internationally recognised ‘Dark Skies Reserve’ status for the Lake District National Park, to help protect this darkness.

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.  

It is sobering to think that an estimated 85% (some say higher) of the UK population has never seen the Milky Way due to the rapid rise of light pollution over the last 50 years. And 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.

Dark skies are integral to the tranquillity and distinctiveness of the great landscapes of the Lake District and Cumbria. They are important to our well-being, and for the feeding, breeding and pollinating habit of nocturnal animals.

Our aim for achieving Dark Sky Reserve status for the Lake District National Park is two-fold: Firstly, to recognise, through accreditation from an international body, an important environmental feature of the Park’s unique landscape. Secondly, to help ensure it remains so (and even improves) for future generations. We are doing this by working with statutory, community and business stakeholders both within and outside the 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.

Campaigners for dark skies are at great pains to say this issue 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.

A good summary of the issues of lighting pollution can be found on the Campaign to Protect Rural England 2016 report called Night Blight: Mapping England’s light pollution and dark skies.

Please donate to help our work to secure 'Dark Skies' accreditation for the wonderful nocturnal skyscape of the Lake District.

Help save our nocturnal skyscapes by donating to our Dark Skies Appeal

For more information about our Dark Skies project, contact Dark Skies Officer Johanna Korndorfer, email  [email protected] or phone 01539 720788.

Dark Skies Roadshow

Johanna Korndorfer, our Dark Skies Project Officer is taking the message out to Parish Councils, Women's Institutes and community groups about importance of safeguarding our dark skies. 

Johanna will deliver a talk providing information on why dark skies are important and a demonstration about ways outdoor lighting, with a few simple adjustments, can protect our astronomical heritage, treat nocturnal wildlife better and safeguard our own health and well-being. 

If you'd like Johanna to visit your group or organisation and deliver a talk on 'Dark Skies' in Cumbria then do get in touch.You can contact Johanna on 01539 720788 or email her at [email protected] to discuss your event or meeting. She will be delighted to tailor the length of her talk to fit your programme.

For the latest Dark Skies Roadshow events see our Events page.

Volunteer Sky Quality Meter Readers Needed!
As part of the Dark Skies Project, we need to start mapping the quality of the dark skies over the Lake District National Park, including from the settlements which border the park. We need readings in all areas, the darkest parts and the not-so-dark, to see how light pollution affects the skies. The winter months are the very best time of the year to do this.
If you live in or around the national park, why not get involved and take a sky quality reading or two? It’s easy to do and we’ll show you how using one of our light meter readers. The best times to take a reading are two hours after sunset and two hours before sun up.  The biggest challenge is taking them during clear moonless or near moonless evenings. Over the next month the most ideal times to take readings are from 1-13 December. If you are interested, please email [email protected]