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Tue, 25 Oct 2011

Dark Sky Discovery launched

Exploring the night sky at Lee Valley Regional Park
(Credit: DSD/LeeValley/Andrew Baker)

New Dark Sky Discovery sites around the UK have been announced at a launch event held in London on 24 October. The sites are not necessarily those with the darkest skies, but they are places where people can learn about astronomy and where night sky viewing will be held from time to time.

The Dark Sky Discovery initiative began in Scotland, where 10 of the 16 sites are located. Sites in England include the Lee Valley Regional Park in London, where the launch was held, Wimbleball Lake in Exmoor and Queen Elizabeth Country Park in Sussex.

The SPA is a partner organisation in the initiative, and plays a part in locating new sites. Currently, activities take place only on certain nights, and are based on existing visitor centre facilities.

At the launch in the Waterworks Nature Reserve in the Lee Valley, SPA President John Zarnecki presented the centre with a plaque announcing its inauguration as a Dark Sky Discovery site. Outside, skies were cloudy but members of the public were given lectures, demonstrations and a portable planetarium show. Although the site is by no means dark, there are no lights on the observing site itself and people will get as good a view of the sky as they can in inner London. Some of the other sites so far chosen are in dark areas, such as those at Kielder Forest and Exmoor.

To find out where the sites are, go to the Dark Sky Discovery website.


Added by: Robin Scagell