The Andromeda Galaxy – M31. Taken by Steve Futcher
The South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA) and partners are working on an application to the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) to see if parts of the landscape could be given Dark Sky Reserve status, to help protect and enhance the dark skies. They are asking Bepton villagers for help in gathering evidence for the application.
The SDNPA’s initial measurements of sky quality indicate that the darkest skies lie within the parishes between Petersfield, Midhurst and possibly, towards Petworth. Not only do the skies within this core measure as the darkest in the park, but are some of the darkest areas within in the region, rivalling some already established Dark Sky Reserves such as Exmoor and Brecon Beacons. This puts Bepton at the heart of the potential dark skies area.
The SDNPA have asked Bepton villagers to help in two surveys. The first is the Andromeda Stellar Survey. Details are on the SDNPA’s website at http://southdowns.gov.uk/looking-after/dark-skies/get-involved . But the most important is the External Lighting Survey of residences and businesses within the core. This audit is a requirement of the IDA application process and it will help the SDNPA develop the Lighting Management Plan. The Plan will provide a ‘road map’ to how the SDNPA can address sources of light pollution that affects both the stars in sky and the ‘stars’ of the local nocturnal wildlife. So, the SDNPA are asking everyone who lives, or has a business, in Bepton to complete this lighting survey.
All the lighting survey asks is what type of external lights you have on, and around, your buildings. It aims to capture the types of light fitting you have and – ideally – what strength bulb is used. The SDNPA will then add this post-coded data to their sky darkness maps to determine where the reserve core boundary should lie and where major sources of light pollution are.
Changes to lighting may be required in some cases, but often the smallest alteration to the angle or reducing the bulb output will be enough to satisfy the requirements set by IDA for lighting within the core. Where changes are required, resources from the SDNPA could be allocated to agree and make the changes.
You can find the external lighting survey on the South Downs website; http://southdowns.gov.uk/looking-after/dark-skies/get-involved at the bottom of the page, along with our other slightly more fun surveys.
There are also other activities, including a handy downloadable star map at http://learning.southdowns.gov.uk/wildlife-and-habitats/dark-night-skies
If you would like further information or to get involved further then please contact;
Dan Oakley, a.k.a. Dark Skies Dan
Finally, the Parish Council would like to know whether this is something you are interested in and whether you have completed either survey. Please leave a message using the facility below.