THE BIG SKY

Canal Boat - - Boater’s Break - WITH SEB JAY

Where on the canal net­work are the dark­est night skies? It’s a question I was asked re­cently by a boater en-route from Manch­ester to Lon­don. I whipped out my phone and showed him the in­ter­ac­tive light pol­lu­tion map pub­lished by the Cam­paign to Pro­tect Ru­ral Eng­land – see http:// night­b­light.cpre.org.uk/

It’s a map gen­er­ated from satel­lite data in Septem­ber 2015 that shows light spillage into the night sky from cities, towns, vil­lages, roads and other emis­sion sources. Be­tween us we fig­ured out a route for him along the Shrop­shire Union that co­in­cided with dates when no moon was in the sky.

A cou­ple of weeks ago I got a call from him. He was moored be­tween Audlem and Mar­ket Drayton and was bowled over by the splen­dour of the stars above him.

But that’s not the only place where you’ll find dark skies on the canal net­work. Ru­ral spots on the Llan­gollen, Mon­mouthshire & Bre­con, Ken­net & Avon, Mid­dle Lev­els and the Broads of­fer amaz­ing night sky views.

So, if you’re float­ing about in these ar­eas this sum­mer do moor up and cast your eyes up­wards if you’ve a clear moon­less night. You too might be amazed at the view.

A space-eye view of light pol­lu­tion across Eng­land and Wales

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