South Downs National Park gains dark sky reserve status

CORRECTION
This long-exposure photograph taken on April 23, 2015 on Earth Day shows Lyrids meteors shower passing near the Milky Way in the clear night sky of Thanlyin, nearly 14miles away from Yangon. AFP PHOTO / Ye Aung Thu        (Photo credit should read Ye Aung Thu/AFP/Getty Images)

Two nature reserves in the South Downs National Park, West Sussex have been awarded ‘Dark Sky Reserve’ status for the quality of their starry skies.

Advertisement

RSPB Pulborough Brooks and Amberley Wildbrooks gained the coveted International Dark-sky Association (IDA) International Dark Sky Reserve title following a successful bid. It is only the second in England and 11th in the world to be awarded this status. Other dark sky sites in Britain include Northumberland National Park, Elan Valley Estate and Galloway Forest Park.  

A team of dedicated staff and volunteers spent three years mapping out the quality of the night skies located within South Downs National Park, gaining the two reserves bronze level status.

Now, on clear nights the Milky Way and Andromeda Galaxy can be seen with the naked eye.

The special status will protect the new Dark Skies Reserve from light pollution, meaning anyone from astronomers to amateur star-gazers can enjoy far off stars and galaxies without the glow of street lights masking the view.

J. Scott Feieraband, Executive Director of the IDA, said: “We are pleased to announce the designation of South Downs National Park as an IDA Dark Sky Reserve. It is remarkable that a true dark-sky experience remains within reach of nearly 17 million people in Greater London and southeast England, and a testament to the hard work of South Downs staff and areas residents in keeping it that way.”

Advertisement

Visitors to RSPB Pulborough Brooks can get closer to nocturnal nature through a series of after dark events taking place in June and July. RSPB’s annual Big Wild Sleepout event, taking place 29th to 31st July, also allows guests to book an overnight stay on the reserve. www.rspb.org.uk/sleepout