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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…

Weather

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.

Atherfield

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.

Communication

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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Garlic Festival 2013

bpots2

Vectis Astronomical Society and the DarkWightSkies will be sharing a stand at this year’s Garlic Festival – 17th & 18th August – Garlic Festival website.

Please call in to say hello!

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Meeting with Andrew Turner MP

Chris and Brian had a useful meeting with Island MP Mr Andrew Turner this morning.

We explained the “Dark Skies Initiative” and outlined our progress so far along with a general chat regarding the benefits of engaging the Island community in the project.

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Losing the Dark

This is quite a large video file and may take a while to fully load.
I suggest you run it fullscreen if you can.

To help raise public awareness of some of the issues pertaining to light pollution, Loch Ness Productions in collaboration with the International Dark-Sky Association has created Losing the Dark in fulldome video format for digital planetarium use, and also as a conventional flat screen video.

  • Losing the Dark has no license fee!
  • It’s free to anyone who would like to show it.
  • It’s on YouTube, available for on-line viewing, sharing and embedding on blogs and Web pages.
  • Downloads available, so Losing the Dark can be used in classrooms, kiosks, museum theatres, and multimedia presentations.
  • Classic planetarium theaters without fulldome capability can show this version using their traditional video projectors.You can get more information about light pollution and how to combat it from International Dark-Sky Association Web site: http://www.darksky.org.Losing the Dark is copyrighted by the International Dark-Sky Association and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/More information can be found at:Losing the Dark on the Loch Ness Productions website: http://www.lochnessproductions.com/losingthedarkLosing the Dark on the IDA website: http://www.darksky.org/losingthedark

Losing the Dark on the IDA website:

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