The International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) have today (10 May) named the South Downs National Park as the world’s newest International Dark Sky Reserve.
J. Scott Feierabend, Executive Director of the IDA, said, "We are pleased to announce the designation of South Downs National Park as an IDA Dark Sky Reserve. It is remarkable that a true dark-sky experience remains within reach of nearly 17 million people in Greater London and southeast England, and a testament to the hard work of South Downs staff and area residents in keeping it that way."
South Downs Ranger Dark-skies-Dan Oakley and a group of dedicated volunteers have spent the past three years mapping out the quality of night skies across the National Park. The new reserve is the second in England and only the eleventh to be named in the world.
Dan Oakley, South Downs National Park ranger said, "With the South of England under threat from losing its last few patches of properly dark skies this is a statement that the skies of the South Downs are worth protecting. With 2 million people living within 5 km of the National Park, the reserve will be one of the most accessible in the world and certainly one of the most cared for.
Plans to create the reserve have received support from more than 70 parish, town and county councils and other organisations with more than 1,300 people signing up to a 'dark skies pledge'."
Rural Affairs Minister Rory Stewart said, "This is a wonderful project. A dark night sky – a glimpse of the stars – is both an extraordinary thing, and an increasingly rare experience in a crowded urban world. The South Downs National Park is bringing communities not just an opportunity to see the English countryside at its finest, but also stars far beyond our planet. I’m so pleased that they have brought this project together with such success and confidence."
Picture: Centre of the Milky Way over Gaffham Common. Copyright to Dan Oakley SDNPA