Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Dumfries and Galloway continues to support its Dark Skies initiative

Astronomer and telescopeIt’s some time since the UK’s first Dark Sky Park had its last mention regarding the observatory to be established there.

However, it’s clear that Dumfries and Galloway council was not just paying lip service to the concept, and just forgot all about it once the award was achieved, but is continuing to maintain a serious effort to make the area into a significant astronomy community.

The council is investing millions of pounds across the region to install dark skies lamps in all of its street lighting. £7.4 million will be spent to convert 24,000 street lights from old-fashioned sodium types to more efficient LED types. While the main aim of this change is to meet forthcoming key carbon emissions targets, and save thousands in running costs (LED lighting uses significantly less power than any conventional street lighting), the council expects the change to boost to the local economy by attracting even more star-gazing tourists to the area.

Tests were previously carried out with the new lighting in Glentrool village, where the savings were described as “dramatic”, and the refit there saved £1,500 per annum in electricity charges, with further savings to be delivered due to the much longer life of the LED units, and consequently reduced maintenance demands. An eight year payback period is projected.

LEDs emit a bright white light, without the orange of the old sodium types. Those installed at Glentrool have been describes using 40 W, compared to the 67 W of the sodium units. LEDs also send their light in only one direction, down onto the street, unlike the normal sodium lamp which is omnidirectional, resulting in yet more waste as it has to be shaded, yet still spills light to the side and upwards.

Ameé Hennig, programme manager for the American-based International Dark Sky Association, said: “Dumfries and Galloway are leading the way with their plans. “Should they be designated as an International Dark Sky Community [IDSC], they will be an example to communities around the globe as the first IDSC home to over 100,000 residents.”

There are only four Dark Sky Communities worldwide, the largest of which by population is Flagstaff in Arizona, home to 70,000 people.

Via Dumfries and Galloway install stargazer-friendly lights – Top stories –

International Dark Sky Community

The World’s first International Dark Sky Community was declared on the tiny island of Sark,  located west of France’s Cotentin Peninsula and about 80 miles (130 km) off the south coast of England.

The island, 3 miles long and 1.5 miles wide, has no cars and no public street lighting, so had a certain advantage, but local residents and businesses still made the effort to reduce the amount of light spilled upwards by adjusting the lighting used around their homes.

In January 2011, following an audit in 2010 by the International Dark Sky Association, Sark was designated as a Dark Sky Community and the first Dark Sky Island in the world, meaning that Sark is sufficiently clear of light pollution to allow naked-eye astronomy.

The award was significant in that it made Sark the first island community to achieve such recognition.

Until this award was made, Dark Sky Places had only been established in largely uninhabited areas.

See details: Sark is world’s first ‘dark sky island’ | UK news |

Starry sky


22/04/2013 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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