Looking up at the night sky is an endeavour most frequently exacted by (almost exclusively) astronomers and randy teenagers in eighties American comedies. The sky is always there, together with its stars and planets and supernovas and black holes suspended weightlessly in the never-ending firmament. The delight of the celestial, however, is an enjoyment easily and readily experienced by anyone and everyone. It is free fun, essentially, yet something that hasn’t ever seemed in danger. The expansion of the UK’s towns and cities has exponentially created a scourge of light pollution that threatens to affect our appreciation of this, our most ancient tourist attraction.
The astronomical experts of Yorkshire have seen fit to ensure that the integrity of our night’s sky is intact for generations to come. Astronomy has ballooned in popularity in recent years and the intention of the experts is to apply for ‘Dark Sky Status’, which would change planning guidance in certain areas to prevent the pollution from affecting any more of the country’s National Parks, including the Peak District and North York Moors. Dark Sky Status would regulate the use of artificial light in those areas, meaning that the night sky would be protected.
The Peak District National Park Authority research officer John Tanner aims to draw on the nation’s interest in the night’s sky in the application for Dark Sky Status.
“Over the last 75 years, the night skies were deemed no longer important and they have been largely forgotten about. That is, however, changing as more people are taking the time to discover the wonder of the stars.
The pace of modern life is so frantic, but astronomy is giving people a chance to escape and spend time marvelling at what is above us.”
Amazingly, eighty-five per cent of the UK population have never seen a truly dark sky. Such a treat can be found in the national parks we are so lucky to have, and if successful the application for Dark Sky Status will ensure that generations to come will have the opportunity to experience an unfettered view of the beautiful infinity of nature.