Project aims to protect Howardian Hills night-time environment
An exciting new project has been launched to protect and celebrate the beautiful dark skies over the Howardian Hills in North Yorkshire. The initiative, supported by the Howardian Hills Partnership, will see six special stargazing events staged at locations across the beautiful 79 square mile landscape between September 2023 and February 2024. Many of the events are free (but places must be booked) and are targeted at residents of the Howardian Hills and bordering areas.
Not only will there be the chance to join astronomers and spy celestial wonders through telescopes, but people can learn more about the importance of a dark nocturnal environment, not just for humans but also for wildlife. Plus experts will give advice on how residents and businesses can switch to dark sky friendly lighting, or adjust their existing lighting.
Stargazer Richard Darn, leading the project, explained: “This is a really exciting initiative and one that has its root in concerns that light pollution across the UK is increasing. We are now at a point where 80 per cent of Britons can’t see the Milky Way from their home. Fortunately in the Howardian Hills we can still marvel at a starry sky and this project aims to share that beauty and ask people to make wise lighting choices.”
According to a recent survey the night sky over Europe is brightening at a rate of about 6% per year. The switch to LED lighting with its lower costs has seen more high intensity external lighting used in both urban and rural areas. Much of this is unshielded, creating added sky-glow and disrupting wildlife habitats.
Richard Darn added: “We are not forgetting the fun part of all this. Public star parties are massively popular and we’ll hopefully be offering stunning views of Saturn, the Milky Way, sparkling stars clusters and distant galaxies. The sky over the Howardian Hills can be a wondrous sight and we want to encourage people to help keep it that way.”
Ellie Hook, Manager of the Howardian Hills Partnership, said: “The dark night skies of the Howardian Hills make an important contribution to the character and tranquillity of the area. We’re delighted to be working with Richard and other experts to deliver this community programme of events and to help ensure we continue to preserve our valuable and beautiful night skies.”
A new leaflet offering practical tips on dark sky friendly lighting has been published by the Howardian Hills Partnership. Additionally, as part of a worldwide survey, a number of dark sky meters have installed across the area to monitor sky quality.
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