York & North Yorkshire

Yorkshire Dales bids for Dark Sky Reserve status

Starry sky above Pendragon Castle in Mallerstang Image copyright Ben Bush Photography
Image caption On a clear night distant shooting stars and planets are visible in the sky

Planets, shooting stars and the northern lights are visible above the Yorkshire Dales at night due to a lack of light pollution, the park authority has said.

It is applying for Dark Sky Reserve status to help preserve that quality.

The status is granted to areas with little or no artificial light pollution with good conditions for astronomy.

The national park intends to submit its bid to the International Dark Sky Association by the end of July.

The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) has been taking light measurements in 290 locations since 2018 to support its application.

It has been told the results of the light measurements show 100 locations which meet the minimum requirement for a Dark Sky Reserve.

Nick Cotton, of the YDNPA, said: "The dark sky in the national park has been recognised as one of its special qualities for many years. Now we've got the data to back it up."

Image copyright YDNPA
Image caption The map shows just how little light pollution there is above the Yorkshire Dales

The authority board has agreed the area designated would comprise land around, but not including, Hawes.

It would take in the upper ends of Swaledale, Rawthey Valley, Garsdale, Littondale and Wharfedale and would cover about 30% of the national park.

Mr Cotton said the status would help the park gain international recognition.

"It has the potential to boost the tourism economy too," he added.

"On a clear winter's night in the national park you can see the Milky Way, planets, shooting stars and sometimes even the northern lights. People will come to stay for that."

The Yorkshire Dales National Park would be the fourth national park in England to become a Dark Sky Reserve, after Northumberland, Exmoor and The South Downs.

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