The South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty's (AONB) Light Pollution Reduction Project, supported by the AONB Sustainable Development Fund, staged four opportunities to discover our night skies in one of the world's most advanced mobile planetariums.
Astronomer and teacher Simon Ould of Space Odyssey took everyone on a guided tour of the stars, and demonstrated how much more we could see if we all did our bit to reduce the amount of light that spills out into our night sky masking its true beauty. The events were all fully booked and participants were thrilled with what they saw.
The impact of light pollution and skyglow can be seen across the AONB. Below is a picture taken at Blackdown Rings on 24th September 2009 with a 'fish eye' lens.
In the rural areas of South Devon views of natural nightscapes are often affected by incidental low level lighting that typically use inappropriate light fittings or poorly directed security lighting. One of the aims of this project was to help individual householders and organisations to minimise the impact of security lighting, other outdoor lighting on their own properties or those of commercial and public buildings.
Following good lighting practice has added benefits too. For example, enabling you to save money on energy bills and reduce your CO2 emissions at the same time.
Street lighting is often blamed for various forms of light pollution, but Devon County Council, who are responsible for most of the street lights in our area, have an excellent track record and take a pro-active approach to managing the area's street lights. An extensive annual programme of upgrades has equipped many AONB settlements with low energy, full cut-off lamps that ensure all the light they produce goes downwards and none is wasted into the night sky.
Where communities support the idea, an additional move to part night switching is being introduced, where lights in residential areas are switched off between 12:30am and 5:30am. Other alternatives, including dimming lights during the early hours of the morning, are also being used where complete switch-offs are not possible.
This programme of work is making a significant contribution to reclaiming our dark night skies and natural nightscapes and restoring these special qualities of the South Devon AONB.
The AONB is currently working on a project to collect images of the AONB over a period of 20 years to identify changes in the landscape. A selection of sites have been photographed at night to capture the effects of skyglow across the AONB. Find out more and view photographs.
All this good work by Devon County Council and other responsible landowners / householders can be easily negated however if householders choose to install overpowered and inappropriate external lighting of their own. With this in mind, during 2009 the AONB Information Caravan toured the area's Agricultural Shows with a display focused on the area's dark night skies and natural nightscapes and a demonstration of good and bad home lighting practice.
The display is backed up by a series of useful information sheets that can be downloaded from the right of this page. They are aimed at helping you to take positive local action, supporting both the AONB and Devon County Council in securing good lighting practice throughout the area.
Please contact us if you require any further information.