International Dark Sky Designation

Coming Up

Caradon Observatory will be running a Dark Sky evening on Saturday 21st October at Jamaica Inn. Come along at 7pm for the dinner event or at 8.30pm for free stargazing.

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The dinner event will include an introduction to Bodmin Moor’s International Dark Sky Landscape designation and a talk on Neptune and the Cornishman John Couch Adams, who predicted the planet’s existence in the 1800s using calculations he had worked out in his head.  There will also be an opportunity to see Neptune and its moon Triton illustrated on the Magic Planet, an interactive globe that depicts the topography of planets.

The free stargazing session will start at 8.30pm with a chance to chat with the astronomers. People should wrap up warm and keep their fingers crossed for clear skies. Outside observing will begin from 9.00pm. There will be an array of telescopes for viewing the night sky, including a 12 inch telescope on loan from First Light Optics in Exeter. At twilight Saturn will be a few degrees above the southwest horizon. Neptune will be due south at around 10.00pm.  Although much smaller than the major gas giants when viewed through a telescope, it will still be visible as a blue disk. Weather permitting, there should also be a chance to see the Andromeda galaxy, a star cluster or two and the beautiful double star, Albireo, at the head of Cygnus, the swan constellation.

To book a place at the dinner event, ring Jamaica Inn on 01566 86250. There’s no need to book for the free stargazing, and people are welcome to drop in from 8.30pm. Further details are available at http://www.jamaicainn.co.uk/news/events/272

The International Dark-Sky Association has officially designated Bodmin Moor as an International Dark Sky Landscape. This follows an application prepared by Cornwall Council and Caradon Observatory.

Recent light readings show the quality of the night sky over Bodmin Moor is amongst the best in the world. The purpose of achieving a designation is to capture the wide-ranging benefits of conserving this natural asset including:

  • Scientific advantages – enabling enhanced conditions for astronomy;
  • Educational outreach – facilitating both formal education (at all levels) and more informal activities;
  • Enjoyment and appreciation – improving quality of life and provide creative inspiration;
  • Health – promoting improved sleep patterns and reducing stress;
  • Wildlife – providing a more natural environment for both nocturnal and diurnal animals; and
  • Energy efficiency – reducing wastage from unnecessary or excessive lighting.

The Core Area is the extent of Bodmin Moor which is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). There is also a 2 mile Buffer Zone around this in which good lighting practice will also be encouraged and where communities are also expected to reap some of the benefits.

We want to encourage people who live and/or work on the Moor to manage lighting better and make sure it does what it needs to without harming the night sky.

Nevertheless we will not make anyone change their lights. We all need to see what we’re doing and feel safe as we go about our business. Too often however lighting is overly bright, needlessly spills upwards, poorly aimed and creates shadows – making it harder to see as well as being wasteful and harmful to the night sky. Well considered light can be much more effective.

We’ll produce a quick guide for Dark Sky friendly lighting for when fitting new lights or replacing old. We will encourage:

  • Installing lights that point down not up;
  • Turning lights off when they aren’t needed, maybe use a timer; and
  • Only lighting where you need to.

Both Cornwall Council street lighting and Highways England trunk road lighting have been assessed as part of this project. Cornwall Council lighting has been upgraded across the county as part of the Invest to Save scheme which has improved efficiency and reduced light pollution. We are also looking at where additional adjustments to street lighting would be appropriate on Bodmin Moor.

A list of frequently asked questions has been produced based on discussions with members of the public and other stakeholders.

Please email us at darksky@cornwall.gov.uk to subscribe to our electronic newsletters.  Past newsletters are available to download below:. Past newsletters are available to download below.

Good lighting practice is encouraged across Cornwall. There are also community-led efforts underway for an international designation for west Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. View their Dark Skies Facebook page.

If you have any queries or comments you can email us at darksky@cornwall.gov.uk or write to us using the address below:

Dark Sky Bid, Cornwall Council, Planning Policy Team, Pydar House, Pydar Street, Truro  TR1 1XU