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Island Lighting Code

I am really pleased to announce that, this evening, our Council have a voted to approve a Lighting Code on the Island.

This will help ensure that future planning applications must comply with lighting levels approved by the planning department.

As this site has stated many times; nobody involved with our Dark Skies Initiative is interested in turning off the lights; what we are after is appropriate light levels, in the right place, at the right time.

Nobody has anything to fear from this, in fact we all have a stack to gain – dark skies, good sleep, vibrant wildlife, a tranquil Island, additional tourism opportunities etc, etc.

There’s still work to do but, this is a turning point. We now have Council support, and this sets us on course for full IDA Dark Sky recognition.

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Great Lighting?

We are always on the lookout for Island locations that have great astronomy/dark skies friendly/ lighting.

If you can recommend a location with great lighting, we’d be pleased to hear from you. After we’ve checked the site is suitable we’d be pleased to add it to our list on our Good Lighting page.

It would be easy for us to produce a list of bad lighting sites but that’s not why we are here. We want appropriate lighting, when it is needed and at the right intensity. That is great lighting!

Please use our contact page to make your recommendations.

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February 16 – Dark Skies Event

Dark Wight skies, Isle of Wight

On Monday February 16, the Isle of Wight Observatory is holding a day event to introduce visitors to the world of astronomy. You can use a range of telescopes to see the stars, including the Orion Nebula, which is in the mid southern sky during February evenings, and join discussions about dark skies and their benefits for wildlife such as bats and hedgehogs.

Wight AONB (01983 823855; aonb.org.uk).

No booking needed, just turn up.

The event lasts from 6pm to 10pm and admission is free.

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CPRE Report: Shedding Light

A survey of local authority approaches in England

In early 2014 CPRE carried out a survey of English local authorities to find out how they approach lighting in their areas. The results presented in this report create a detailed picture of lighting issues in England, with the aid of a number of local case studies.

The report also makes nine recommendations to help local authorities reduce light pollution and protect existing dark areas while saving energy.


The Island and this site are mentioned on page 5 of the report.

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Weather etc…


The recent bad weather has delayed our plans to install more fixed sky monitoring stations. Things seem to be improving, so we hope to be back on track soon.


We were recently asked to speak at this week’s IW Council Planning Committee meeting regarding the proposed development at Atherfield. After the various presentations, Committee Members chose to unanimously reject the plan – there are more details at ON THE WIGHT.

We’d like to particularly thank Councillor Bob Seely for his presentation and also to highlight the understanding shown by the meeting regarding Dark Skies in general.


We are planning to meet with local Councillors across the Island with a view to ensuring everyone understands our aims. This will be followed (throughout 2014) by visits to local schools to provide our normal astronomical outreach and also to emphasise the importance of reducing light pollution.

Please remember: Astronomers are not against light – just that in the wrong place, at the wrong time, and at inappropriate intensity.

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Site changes and additions

The latest SQM reading at the observatory is now available on the “SQM Maps etc” page and the complete historical readings are available here.

I have also added a Twitter time-line over on the right of this page.

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Dark Skies Project Funding

The Observatory SQM

Following successful trials at the Observatory, I am very pleased to announce that the IW Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and their Sustainable Development Fund, have agreed to fund our plans to develop and install a fixed network of Sky Quality Meters (SQM) across the Island.

We will be starting the work very soon and hope to have at least 10 fixed monitoring sites and 4 or 5 mobile stations.

The data collected will add to our map and be available to other interested parties

Particular thanks to Fiona Hannah and Joel Bateman (AONB) for their help and ongoing support in our quest for International Dark-Sky (IDA) recognition.

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IW Planning Applications

There are a couple of Island development plans which should concern anyone interested in astronomy:

  1. Atherfield, the old holiday camp
  2. Navitus Bay, an offshore windfarm

1 – Atherfield

The Atherfield development is detailed on the IW Council Website here. There’s a lot to read but in essence, the plan seeks permission to build 95 holiday units and a clubhouse on the site of the old, derelict, holiday camp.

Old Chalets

Officially I suspect this is considered a brown field although it is now in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Atherfield is also in one of the darkest areas on the Island and is a magnet to astronomers from all over the UK.

The development plan mentions the dark skies but, unfortunately, then continues to ignore the impact of the proposed increase in lighting. Comments along the lines of “the development will have a negative benefit on light pollution…” are closely followed by “…this doesn’t really matter as nobody goes there at night.”

All a bit strange, as it seems obvious to me that the area is regularly used by astronomers and even the developers agree on the area’s dark sky status as they draw attention to that fact in their submission, using it as a reason for the development in the first place.

It’s a tricky one as I am sure the development could be made into a model of good lighting which would then have little or no impact on the area. Unfortunately, my first reading of the documents leads me to suspect the developers are nodding in the direction of the AONB and astronomers without committing any resources to achieve an excellent solution.

I need to reread the entire application before making any official comment to the Planning Department. If you have an hour or so, please have a read as well and feel free to leave any comments here.

2 – Navitus Bay

You may have already read about this proposal in the County Press. It plans to build an offshore wind park comprising perhaps 218, 200m, turbines about 8.6 miles of the south west coast of the Island. There’s a lot more detail here.

Again there’s a lot of information to absorb but perhaps most interesting at first is the lack of mention of light pollution! Take a look at this page: http://www.navitusbaywindpark.co.uk/isle-wight, doesn’t look too bad according to the mock daytime views, yes it’s big but that’s about all, but where are the night photos?

Each turbine will have a red aircraft warning light on top and then white, green and red shipping navigation lights nearer the base. In addition there will be two offshore substations which, I am told, will be fully lit 24/7.

The directional properties of the lights needs explaining in more detail but I can see no need for full substation lights at night as according to Wikipedia:

FANUC, the Japanese robotics company, has been operating a “lights out” factory for robots since 2001. “Robots are building other robots at a rate of about 50 per 24-hour shift and can run unsupervised for as long as 30 days at a time. “Not only is it lights-out,” says Fanuc vice president Gary Zywiol, “we turn off the air conditioning and heat too.”

In the Netherlands, Philips uses lights-out manufacturing to produce electric razors, with 128 robots from Adept Technology. The only humans are nine quality assurance workers at the end of the manufacturing process.

Again, I think I should study the proposal again before making my mind up.

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The future of “The Sky at Night”?

The BBC is thinking about the future of this long running and much loved program. Reports in some of the media suggest they may even drop it completely!

There is a petition to keep it at http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/the-bbc-please-do-not-axe-the-sky-at-night

Over 38,000 have signed it so far, perhaps you’d like to do the same?

Update 19/11/13: It seems the Beeb have relented. The Sky at Night has been saved and will appear on BBC4 in future.

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New Map Available

Thanks to Mark Williams (with a little help from his son Rob) for the  improved Dark Sky Map.

See the new version here.

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