Exmoor National Park has been designated the first International Dark Sky Reserve in Europe!
A view of the stars is a view of our natural heritage and a spectacular quality of Exmoor’s night time landscape. Dark night skies are a declining resource, threatened by development and the effects of intrusive artificial lighting. To help protect Exmoor’s natural environment the National Park Authority aims to achieve International Dark Sky Reserve status, an award administered by the International Dark Skies Association (IDA). Through careful management of artificial lighting the darkness of the night can be protected with benefits to wildlife, people and our natural environment.
Exmoor has long been recognised as having dark night skies, a valued attribute of the rural character and tranquility of the area.
2009 was designated as an International Year of Astronomy, Exmoor National Park hosted a number of events to celebrate this occasion under Exmoor’s magnificent dark skies. Fascinating events were run in partnership with local astronomy societies, offering a chance to use a telescope, pick out a constellation and learn more about astronomy, enjoyed by many who attended. Exmoor National Park intends to continue to work in partnership with local astronomical groups and partner organisations to arrange future events to raise awareness and encourage the enjoyment of the darker skies of Exmoor, provide information and education about astronomy, dark sky conservation and enhancement. Details of forthcoming events will be available on this website with information on how you can protect the night sky, get involved with the Exmoor Dark Sky project and activities you may like to try at home.
The Campaign for Dark Skies carried out an analysis of the best places in the UK for stargazing, factoring in both light pollution and cloud cover. That analysis showed that the Exmoor National Park area was the best place for stargazing in the UK, once those two factors were combined. Exmoor may not be as dark as Galloway Forest Park however, there is a significantly higher chance of clear skies in the SW of England offering more opportunities to see the stars.