Cranborne Chase is hoping to become the UK’s first AONB to achieve dark sky recognition.
To gain the status the area needs to have exceptional or distinguished starry nights and nocturnal environments that are protected for their scientific, natural, educational, cultural and heritage treasures and/or public enjoyment.
Find out more about the status on the International Dark Sky Association website
The reason Dark Sky Reserves are prestigious is because they take a lot of earning - ie, there is a lot you have to do first to prove that you deserve the status. Here is a summary of the action plan:
Well, yes it is, but others have done it and so can we – with a little help.
We are using a grid system to gather Sky Quality Meter (SQM) readings in the the 380 square miles of the Cranborne Chase AONB which we need to survey. The process itself is easy. With an iPhone or special handheld device, click a button to take a measurement and record it. However, some of the places are quite remote and will require going out late at night, so it will take some time.
There are three types of lighting we need to survey - public lighting, such as streetlights, businesses, such as warehouses and industrial sites, and domestic lighting. This doesn’t mean that there will be an inspector knocking on your door chastising you for bad lighting. No, quite the opposite. With experts we hope to do most of our surveys from the roadside and initial indications show lighting on the Cranborne Chase AONB is pretty good.
We will need a bit of help here. The plan will set out in easy terms the requirements, but it will need a lighting technician to do the techie bits. Once that is done, we will have a useful guide for everyone to help light the area efficiently but without damaging our view of the night sky.
We are keen to work with a few people to show that we can make a big difference in retaining lighting, but making it dark sky friendly. This could be a council with street lights, a business or a community. We have some ideas, but we would love your thoughts too.
The fun part is opening a bottle of bubbly or two. We have planned and will continue to plan some stargazing events and talks. Would your community or group like to host an event? Would your school or youth group like a planetarium show? Get in touch via our contact page and we can help you plan an event.