Have you ever marvelled at the twinkling stars? The High Weald is superb for magical, starry skies! Take advantage of the longer winter nights to discover more about them...
Parts of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) have some of the darkest skies in the South East because the night sky here is relatively free of artificial light pollution.
However light pollution is rapidly increasing and our dark skies, which have inspired artists, musicians, scientists and philosophers, may not exist for much longer.
Not only does over-use of lights and poorly-designed lighting waste energy and cost us money, light pollution has an impact on wildlife such as bats, moths and birds, and potential harmful effects on human health too.
What the High Weald AONB team is doing
We’re working with local communities to collect light meter readings from across the High Weald to find out where our darkest skies are. Our map below shows the darkest areas measured so far.
High Weald Dark Skies Parish Light Meter Readings January 2019:
We’ve also produced activity cards for schools to help pupils count stars and measure light pollution. And we’re working with local authorities to promote best practice for outdoor lighting.
What can you do to help dark skies?
You can help by thinking about the way you use light in and around your home, and in your community and workplace:
- Remember to draw curtains or blinds at night.
- Only install outdoor lighting where it’s really needed.
- Avoid using brighter lights than absolutely necessary.
- Use shielded outdoor light fixtures.
- Direct outdoor lighting towards the ground.
- Use energy-saving features in outdoor lighting e.g. timers and sensors.
For more information on street lights and lighting for homes and businesses, see the Commission for Dark Skies’ Good Lighting Guide.
The more stars you count within Orion’s four corner stars on a clear night, the darker the sky in your location. If you see more than thirty stars, you’re lucky enough to have truly dark skies. Have a go at counting the stars – our downloadable school activity sheet tells you how.
Use a chart of the night sky to help you understand what you're looking at, such as this handy guide from the BBC's Stargazing Live. There are free apps too to help you identify the constellations, see the BBC’s guide to mobile phone apps for star-gazing.
Take part in Star Count 2019: From 2 to 23 February, help find our darkest skies so more of us can experience this natural wonder. Simply record how many you can see in Orion on a clear night. Find out how to get involved on the CPRE's website.
Dark Skies at Bodiam Castle
16 February, 5.30 - 8pm
From the National Trust with the High Weald AONB team.
Fun for all the family with a night under the stars. Take a peek through a telescope with a local astronomical society. Join in the Star Count 2019 and use a light meter to record how dark our skies are. Talk to the ranger about the resident bats, and in the castle tower, hear star stories - ancient tales of the constellations, Orion and Andromeda. Booking essential, visit the National Trust site.
For more on dark skies in the High Weald, why they’re so important and the level of light pollution in your area, see: www.highweald.org/look-after/dark-skies.
The 'Night Blight' Campaign website from the CPRE (Campaign to Protect Rural England) - ideas about how you can take action on local light pollution, interactive maps and educational resources.
Commission for Dark Skies’ Good Lighting Guide – guidance from the lighting experts at the Commisision for Dark Skies. Advice to save money, increase safety, and minimise light pollution.