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Contemplating the universe! Astrophotography by Ben Bush

Dark Sky Reserve Guidance For Residents

The Yorkshire Dales is home to some of the darkest skies in the country. We’re proud to have large areas of unpolluted night sky where it’s possible to see the Milky Way, planets, meteors and even the Northern Lights. 

This is one of the special qualities of the Yorkshire Dales, and why we’re thrilled to have gained international recognition as an official Dark Sky Reserve, which will help raise awareness, conserve and celebrate this special quality.

The Yorkshire Dales National Park was designated a Dark Sky Reserve by the Internal Dark Association in December 2020, the culmination of five years hard work that was strongly supported by Parish Councils, local businesses, community groups and residents. Everyone that lives and works in the Yorkshire Dales National Park can play their part in helping to keep our wonderful dark skies ‘dark’ and save money on energy costs in the process.

What happens now?

What happens now we have become a Dark Sky Reserve? Will it mean restrictions on lighting? In fact, Dark Sky Reserve status doesn’t mean less lighting, it means thinking about good lighting! Find out why our dark sky needs protecting here.

Planning applications

No change – The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority has asked for details of lighting schemes as part of planning applications since 2006. Our Dark Skies are already recognised as a special quality of the National Park and National Planning Policy works to protect them.

Street lighting

We are working with the district and county councils to ensure when street lights are replaced they replace with 3000K not 4000K colour lighting (ie warm white not cool white)

Existing lighting

The traditional nature of our buildings and associated lighting means most lighting in the National Park is already ‘good’ lighting for dark skies. However, when replacing lighting we want people to think about what they are choosing:

Tourism and appreciation of our Night Sky

Since 2016, we have worked with local businesses, astronomers, dark sky experts and organisations to hold an annual Dark Sky festival during the February half-term. The festival has grown in popularity in recent years and we have now added a virtual Dark Sky Fringe Festival during the October half term.

Obtaining international Dark Sky Reserve status will help the festival to develop further and encourage more visitors out of season. Recent visitor survey’s have highlighted just how much our dark skies are appreciated, in complete contrast to the urban areas where many of them live. This is something we want to celebrate and not take for granted.  

We will continue to raise awareness of Dark Sky tourism, how the Autumn and Winter months in particular are the perfect time to experience dark skies, and the Dark Sky Friendly Businesses visitors can stay at. You can view a list of them here. Find out how you can become a dark sky friendly business here.

Good Lighting Guidance

Efficient and environmentally sensitive lighting benefits wildlife and wellbeing, saves energy and enhances our view of the inspiring night sky.

We’ve been working hard to help protect our exceptional night sky from the increasing problem of light pollution. Now we’re a Dark Sky Reserve we all need to work together to prevent light pollution in future. This might be as simple as turning outdoor lights off when they are not needed or pointing lighting downwards. Making small improvements to lighting can lead to huge improvements in the quality of our dark night sky. 

Make your outdoor lighting Dark Sky friendly

Poor or unnecessary outdoor lighting not only creates light pollution but can also waste energy and money. 

Follow these simple steps when installing outdoor lighting to help reduce the impact on our dark sky:

  • Lighting should be used where needed and when needed
  • Angle lights downward – so there is no unnecessary light above or near the horizontal 
  • Lamps of 500 lumens and less are appropriate for most domestic purposes
  • All lights should have a colour temperature less than 3000K as a default specification
  • Point where the light is needed 
  • Switch lights off when not needed. Use proximity sensors. Avoid dusk-till-dawn sensors
  • Light to the appropriate illuminance – do not over light needlessly
  • Install at the lowest possible height to achieve lighting levels
  • Avoid bright white and cooler temperature LEDs 
  • Shut the curtains at night

Good light fittings 

Choose compact LED downlights or fully shielded pendant style fixtures, preferably with sensors to switch off when not needed.

Bad light fittings 

Unshielded or poorly shielded floodlights that cannot be tilted sufficiently to shine below the horizontal. Avoid common ‘Bulkhead’ style fittings that scatter light in all directions. 

The Institution of Lighting Professionals (ILP) website is a useful source of information and advice on lighting and reducing obtrusive light.  

Lighting Suppliers  

The list below is some of the wholesalers, distributors and retailers that currently supply dark sky friendly light fittings. The list is not exhaustive. 

  • B & Q 
  • City Electrical Factors (CEF) Ltd 
  • Collingwood Lighting Ltd 
  • Edmundson Electrical Ltd 
  • Firstlight Ltd 
  • Homebase 
  • Integral-LED Ltd 
  • Luceco Ltd 
  • Nordlux Lighting 
  • Philips Lighting plc 
  • Screwfix 
  • Searchlight Ltd 
  • Tamlite Lighting Ltd 
  • Thorn Lighting Ltd 
  • Toolstation 
  • Whitecroft Lighting Ltd 
  • YESSS Electrical Ltd

Easy ways to protect and enhance our dark skies 

For further Dark-Sky compliant lighting and lighting unit guides see:

  • Cranbourne Chase AONB International Dark Sky Reserve has produced some lighting guidance which you may find useful. You can access that guidance and download it here.
  • South Downs National Park International Dark Sky Reserve lighting guidance. This is a technical guide designed to provide developers and planners with the necessary information to submit and assess lighting schemes which are appropriate to a Dark Sky Reserve/Landscape. You can download this technical guide here.