Stargazing sites encourage amateur astronomy

 A new initiative, Dark Sky Discovery, identifies great sites for stargazing in your community.

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Amateur astronomers are being given a helping hand with the launch of Dark Sky Discovery, a new partnership of astronomy and environmental organisations.

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Funding activity in nine regions of England, the project is hoping to inspire people to engage with their local community and learn more about the night sky.

Great spots for stargazing – ‘Dark Sky Discovery Sites’ – have been identified by the programme. These include the Brecon Beacons National Park, the Lake District, Kielder Forest and Morayshire. Exmoor National Park, the project’s lead partner in the South West, is an especially interesting site to visit, as it has recently been designated Europe’s first International Dark Sky Reserve.

Project Leader Dan Hillier hopes that Dark Sky Discovery will foster a true community spirit in urban as well as rural locations. “In every community there is somewhere that is the best place to see the stars. Even in towns and cities, there are places such as local parks where people can enjoy the wonders of the night sky, from planets to meteor showers.”
 


Liz Newton, Natural England’s Director for Access and Engagement, encouraged people to come together to enjoy the night sky. “This initiative provides a great way for communities to share and experience an often overlooked part of our natural environment.”
 


The project is also teaming up with BBC Stargazing Live, which is broadcasting its second series in January 2012.

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To find your local stargazing site, visit www.darkskydiscovery.org.uk or for more information about BBC Stargazing Live, see www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00wnvpf.