The Daily Telegraph - Travel
Dark Skies at night is South Downs delight
Britain’s newest national park – less than 50 miles from London – has been praised for its “exceptional” starry nights.
The South Downs National Park (above right) becomes one of just 11 places in the world to be awarded the status of Dark Sky Reserve, in recognition of its isolation from light pollution. It is the second national park in Britain to receive the accolade, after Exmoor National Park.
The 260-square-mile park was only established in April 2011, but is already renowned for offering some of the most beautiful night-time views in the world.
“It is remarkable that a dark-sky experience remains within reach of nearly 17 million people in London and south-east England, and a testament to the work of the South Downs staff and area residents,” said J Scott Feierabend, executive director of the International DarkSky Association (IDA).
The park’s accolade ranks it alongside the likes of NamibRand Nature Reserve in Namibia, and Aoraki Mackenzie in New Zealand. The Brecon Beacons and Snowdonia National Park, both in Wales, are also on the list.
The park applied for Dark Sky status in December 2014, with its rangers encouraging nearby villages to keep lights low at night. More than 25,000 measurements have been taken to map the quality of the night sky across the region.
Dan Oakley, a ranger at the park, said: “With the south of England under threat from losing its last few patches of dark skies, this is a statement that the skies of the South Downs are worth protecting.
“With two million people living within 5km of the park, the reserve will be one of the most accessible in the world.”