CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Dorset Magazine today CLICK HERE

Cranborne AONB’s bid to become an International Dark Sky Reserve

PUBLISHED: 12:03 07 March 2017 | UPDATED: 12:03 07 March 2017

Starry skies over Knowlton Church in Cranbourne AONB (Nigel A Ball Photography)

Starry skies over Knowlton Church in Cranbourne AONB (Nigel A Ball Photography)

Archant

Linda Nunn, director of Cranborne AONB tells us about their bid to make this area of Dorset an International Dark Sky Reserve and the benefits it would have for stargazers and the local economy

What is a Dark Sky Reserve?

An area that has an exceptional quality of starry nights and nocturnal environment that is protected for its scientific, natural, educational, cultural, heritage and public enjoyment. Accreditation for this is awarded by the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) based in the USA (darksky.org). 


What Dark Sky Reserves are there in the UK?

Dark Night Sky Reserves, the highest level of award given, are Breacon Beacons National Park (NP) and Snowdonia NP in Wales and Exmoor NP and South Downs NP in England. There are also Dark Sky Parks (Galloway Forest Park, Northumberland NP and Kielder Water & Forest Park) and some Dark Sky Communities.


Why is Cranborne AONB seeking Dark Sky status?

As 50% of this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is above us, seeking for International Dark Sky Reserve status would conserve and enhance what we have. The Philips Dark Skies map shows a very dark area in central, southern England - it almost perfectly ‘fits’ the shape of Cranborne Chase (AONB). Bob Mizon MBE, who heads up the British Astronomical Associations Commission for Dark Skies, lives in Wimborne right on the edge of the AONB. He is helping us with our bid. 


Is it an important issue for you?

We would like International Dark Sky Reserve status for a multitude of reasons:

People: Sleep can be disrupted by too much light at night which can lead to more serious health issues

Wildlife: Many birds and animals are affected by stray light at night, affecting their breeding cycles and feeding habits.

Education: There is an increasing interest in astronomy. Stargazing is a wonderful educational activity accessible to all ages.

Money: Substantial savings can be made, and energy saved, by local authorities, businesses and individuals from turning off or dimming down unnecessary lighting.

Rural tourism: Other areas designated for their dark skies have seen greater visitor numbers, even in winter, leading to increased business for B&Bs, retailers and others. 


What work have you been doing towards this bid?

Over the past 18 months, we’ve been taking ‘sky quality readings’ all over the AONB, with the help of local astronomers. We need to plot where the darkest ‘core’ area is and then a buffer zone around it.

We’ve also held talks with the different organisations responsible for lighting: local authorities (street lighting), Highways England (major roads), businesses and residents, so we can work together to keep lighting only in the places it’s needed. It’s about shining the right kind of light, in the right place, at the right time.

We will need to have a ‘Lighting Management Plan’ agreed during 2017 that sets out how lighting will be managed into the future. If we’re fortunate enough to be awarded ‘Reserve’ status, the IDA expects an Annual Report detailing events, dark sky promotional activities and ongoing compliance. We will need to ensure any new lighting is to the agreed standard to maintain our fabulous starry skies. This will be done by Dark Skies volunteers. 


How are you raising awareness locally?

Getting the local community on board is very important. We are in the process of sorting out school based activities and talks to any interested clubs, Chambers of Commerce and in local village halls explaining the benefits of dark skies with stunning stargazing afterwards.

The market towns round the edge of the AONB can greatly affect the dark skies (you can see the ‘glow’ from Bournemouth and Poole at night from almost anywhere in the AONB) so raising awareness there is important too.


How can we support this bid?

We need as many supportive letters as possible! The IDA needs to know local communities are behind the application. You can write as an individual, as an interest group (scouts, brownies etc), parish council, school or business. Letters of support are arriving daily, we even had one from the Astronomer Royal, but if we could submit a hundred letters that would be fabulous! You can also pledge your support via the AONB website. 


Ways to support Cranborne AONB’s Dark Skies bid

Take the ‘Dark Skies Pledge’ at ccwwdaonb.org.uk where you will find a Dark Skies leaflet and links to free star charts.

Record any harsh night time lighting in your area and email info@cranbornechase.org.uk so the AONB can explore ways of removing unnecessary artificial glare from the night sky.

Improve the dark night sky by adjusting any of your lights downwards. Confine the light to the place to be illuminated.

Spread the word to others. If you’d like a talk on our wonderful starry skies or find out more about the bid, please email info@cranbornechase.org.uk or call 01725 517417.

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Dorset visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Dorset staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Dorset account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & About

Friday, December 7, 2018

This easy walk takes us into Hardy territory as well offering some glorious views towards Weymouth and Portland

Read more
Thursday, November 29, 2018

Here are some Dorset walks, easy and challenging, to get you out and about over the festive period

Read more
Wednesday, November 28, 2018

If you’re willing to brave the cold this Christmas Day, check out Dorset’s festive swim calendar for the best organised dips taking place in 2018

Read more
Thursday, November 15, 2018

Confusion reigns on the county’s eastern border

Read more
Thursday, November 15, 2018

From festive light switch-ons and Santa’s Grottos, to German Christmas markets and late-night shopping, we’ve covered what’s on in Dorset this season

Read more
Monday, November 12, 2018

From your first step, you will see superb views from hilltops and farmland footpaths on this walk

Read more
Sunday, November 11, 2018

Martin Clunes and his family have called West Dorset home for over two decades. Here he shares some of their favourite local places

Read more
Monday, November 5, 2018

To mark the centenary of the end of World War One we visit some of the memorials erected across Dorset to remember the fallen in the ‘war to end all wars’

Read more
Friday, October 26, 2018

This lovely walk takes us from watercress beds to a church famous for its life-size carvings of apostles

Read more
Thursday, October 25, 2018

Autumn is a great time to brush up on your gardening knowledge with the help of some experts, as well as see some well known gardens in a different light

Read more
Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The guide to Dorset’s best firework displays and bonfire events happening in 2018

Read more
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Prepare to experience the paranormal this Hallowe’en as Visit Dorset reveals some of the county’s most haunted pubs, stately homes, historic buildings and tanks

Read more
Monday, October 15, 2018

Dorset villages are some of the most beautiful in England – think winding lanes, thatched cottages and a cosy pub or welcoming tea room. We suggest ten of the prettiest villages to visit in the county

Read more
Friday, September 14, 2018

Follow in the footsteps of the Romans on this lovely walk that takes in rare habitat, ancient woodland and glorious views

Read more
 
A+ South & South West

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Subscribe or buy a mag today


subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search