International Dark Sky Reserve

Reserve Status

Cranborne Chase AONB was designated an International Dark Sky Reserve in 2019

In October 2019, Cranborne Chase became the UK's first AONB to become an International Dark Sky Reserve in its entirety.  

What is a Dark Sky Reserve?

IDAA very prestigious designation, Dark Sky Reserve status is awarded to only a small number of areas in the world. To date there are just 17.

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.

Cranborne Chase AONB's application for International Dark Sky Reserve status

Read our application here


Read the appendices to our International Dark Sky bid here

Find out more about the status on the International Dark Sky Association website.

Why become a Dark Sky Reserve?

  • It is a designation for one of our most special qualities.
  • It will prevent further pollution and enhance our dark skies.
  • It will give us added recognition for our destination.
  • It enables us to increase our connection with half of our visual environment – allowing countless people to understand and enjoy our night skies.

How do we measure our night sky?

We use 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 a 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.