See the light! – stay in the dark!
Did you know that the rural areas of Northumberland National Park and Kielder Water & Forest Park are some of the darkest in the country?
It is estimated that 85% of the UK population has never seen a truly dark sky or experienced the sense of wonder that a clear night crackling with billions of stars can give!
Sadly, however, the dark skies above rural Northumberland are under threat. Increased light pollution from nearby urban areas, as well as from our own street and outdoor lighting is beginning to threaten our ability to see the stars clearly – even in the darker corners of the National Park.
In light of this however, there is a genuine and growing interest in amateur astronomy and star gazing. Popular TV programmes like BBC’s Stargazing Live and news coverage of recent sightings of the northern lights off the Northumberland coast have whipped up lots of interest.
To boldly go!
To tackle the issue of light pollution and to provide opportunities for the public to enjoy the night sky, the National Park Authority is embarking on an exciting journey itself.
The International Dark Sky Association (IDA) is the leading international organisation combating light pollution worldwide. The IDA awards the designations of ‘Dark Sky Reserve’ or Dark Sky Park’ to those wild and remote places that demonstrate an ability to conserve the dark skies above them and are committed to providing opportunities for the public to enjoy them.
We believe that Northumberland National Park could become an International Dark Sky Reserve, making it only the second one in Europe.
We are not alone!
The National Park Authority is collaborating with Kielder Water and Forest Park, which is committed to becoming only the second International Dark Sky Park in Europe. With the superb facility of Kielder Observatory and its programme of star camps, it has already become one of the most popular attractions in Northumberland.
If we are both successful with our respective applications to the IDA, we will create the largest protected dark sky area in Europe and the second largest in the world!
We want to work with local communities to preserve their unspoiled night skies for the enjoyment of residents, for the tourism value to local businesses and for the benefit of future generations.
The timetable for consultation is not fixed; we recognise the need to discuss this designation properly with residents and Parish Councils over the next few months.