Looking for a great vacation spot with those all-important dark skies for astronomical observing? A small island in the English Channel off the French coast of Normandy might be just what you are looking for. The Channel Island of Sark has been officially recognized for the quality of its night sky by the International Dark-sky Association (IDA), who have designated it as the world’s first dark sky island, the latest in a select group of dark sky places around the world.
What makes the Sark skies so dark? The island has no public street lighting, there are no paved roads and cars, so effectively, there is no light pollution in the skies. Those who have been there say the night sky is very dark, with the Milky Way stretching from horizon to horizon, meteors streaking overhead, and countless stars on display.
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The people who live there have made dark skies one of their priorities. Through a long process of community consultation, a comprehensive lighting management plan was created by Jim Patterson of the Institute of Lighting Engineers, and many local residents and businesses have altered their lighting to make them more dark sky friendly, ensuring that as little light as possible spills upwards where it can drown out starlight.
Roger Davies, president of the Royal Astronomical Society, said, “This is a great achievement for Sark. People around the world are become increasingly fascinated by astronomy as we discover more about our universe, and the creation of the world’s first dark sky island in the British Isles can only help to increase that appetite. I hope this leads to many more people experiencing the wonders of a truly dark sky.”
For more information on Sark, see the island’s website.
For more information on the International Dark-sky association: http://www.darksky.org/
Source: Royal Observatory Greenwich