Why do dark skies matter?
Seeing the band of light we call the Milky Way stretching across a sky full of stars is one of the most incredible natural sights to behold.
However, light pollution, the fastest growing form of pollution on our planet, obscures that view meaning fewer people are getting to experience it.
Dark skies enable us to see the skies as they should be seen. In addition, reducing light pollution is proven to help our wellbeing, wildlife, and natural environment.
How can people find out more about the night sky and dark skies?
The best way to find out about dark skies is to get out there and experience them! Just getting a few miles out of the town or city you live in makes a massive difference to what you can see in the sky. So, I recommend installing an astronomy app on your phone and heading out, taking a flask of hot chocolate with you.
As for where you can go, the UK has several Dark Sky Parks and Reserves, protected regions accredited by the International Dark Skies Association. In addition, there is an extensive network of Dark Sky Discovery Sites which are specific locations where you can stargaze.
Note that dark sky locations are only dark when there is no bright Moon at night; if you are planning a stargazing trip, check the lunar phase first.
The UK is home to over 100 public observatories and over 200 astronomical societies; looking up your local astronomy club is an excellent way for beginners to get involved.
Visit the Go Stargazing website for advice on where and when to stargaze. The website also features dark sky regions, stargazing sites, observatories, astronomy clubs and a lunar calendar which explains precisely when the skies will be at their darkest.