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Vibrant Milky Way over Norber Ridge by Matt Gibson

Dark Sky Reserve Success for National Parks

Monday 7 December, 2020, by News Release

The Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors National Parks have been designated International Dark Sky Reserves, joining an exclusive global family of Dark Sky Places. 

The Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors are home to some of the darkest skies in the country, with large areas of unpolluted night sky where it’s possible to see thousands of stars, the Milky Way, meteors and even the Northern Lights.

As part of a coordinated approach by the two National Parks, the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), has granted Reserve status to both areas, which combined cover over 3500 km2 of northern England. This is by far the biggest such announcement in the UK and represents one of the largest areas in Europe to be simultaneously designated.

Both National Parks have worked hard over several years to achieve this award, gaining support from councils, parishes, landowners, businesses and renowned astronomical experts.

Jim Bailey, Chairman of the North York Moors National Park Authority said:

“’It’s a wonderful thing to see a meteorite streak across the night sky, or to look up and appreciate the brilliance of the Milky Way. As a child I took these sights for granted, but now it’s absolutely something we need to protect for generations to come.

“This designation as an International Dark Sky Reserve is the culmination of immense dedication and teamwork, and it will continue as we encourage more people to think carefully about our night time environment. From helping nocturnal wildlife to providing a boost for off-season tourism, the North York Moors looks set to have a better, darker future.”

Neil Heseltine, Chair of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority said:

“Those lucky enough to live in the Yorkshire Dales National Park know what it is to experience the wonder of some of the darkest skies in the country, and it’s thrilling that the Dales has received recognition for one of its most special qualities.

“Designation provides a fantastic opportunity to encourage tourism in the autumn and winter months, and to work with local authorities, businesses and communities to ensure our dark skies are protected.

“I would like to thank all those who took the time to offer their support, especially our Parish Councils, and everyone who has collectively helped to bring the National Park this incredible accolade.”

Ruskin Hartley, Executive Director of the International Dark-Sky Association said:

“We applaud the work of Park staff and many volunteers who make this designation possible. They have established the Parks as a global leader in dark-sky conservation.”

In addition to global recognition of the National Parks’ exceptional starscapes, designation also provides an opportunity to promote locations, events and businesses which provide outstanding opportunities to look up into the night sky. As well as enhancing habitats for wildlife, improving health and wellbeing and bringing increased economic benefit to the local tourist industry.

The ambition is to enhance the areas dark skies still further by promoting the importance of dark sky-friendly lighting, therefore reducing unnecessary consumption of electricity and minimising carbon footprints and energy costs for households.

Milky Way over Ravenscar by Steve Bell NYMNP
Picture of News Release

News Release

Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority


9 Replies to “Dark Sky Reserve Success for National Parks”

  1. Louise Bacon says:

    Hi please could you forward any information on any camping, glamping or cabin hire site where it would be possible to view the Dark Skies and what times of year are best to view possible the Milky Way. I would traveling with my 2 daughter youngest would be 7 years cold.
    Regards louise Bacon

  2. Mark Rand says:

    Is there a map showing the boundaries of the actual dark sky zone in the YDNP?

      • Mark Rand says:

        Thank you Mark S for that link – what a splendid report!

        If I was being picky I would take issue with “There are no strategic roads or mainline railways inside the Park.” The London-Glasgow Midland main line (the so-called Settle-Carlisle) is indeed a main line and it is open 24/7. It is not however a major source of prolonged light apart from the three stations at Dent, Garsdale and Kirkby Stephen where deliberately heritage gaslamp style platform lights exist. They have not yet been converted to downward-pointing LEDs but such fittings are to be had. They are on time-switches which possibly need adjusting to shorten their illumination times in line with last-train times + an allowance for late-running?

        Special thanks to astro-photographer Pete Collins whose favourite place on earth is the Ribblehead viaduct.

        Mark R

  3. Jack Sutton says:

    Congratulations to both National Parks – a job well done – here’s hoping for a few more CLOUDLESS nights so we can really enjoy our newly won status.

  4. Barbara Hartley says:

    Congratulations to both of the National Parks – Great news

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