Simon's Blog - Into the Darkness
Through the winter I have had the opportunity to be out in both the Suffolk Coast & Heaths and Dedham Vale Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty after dark. Once away from the villages the experience of being in the dark is something to be savoured.
When these visits have coincided with minimal moonlight, it is an outstanding experience. The full splendour of the night skies become apparent and even the amateur, like myself, can enjoy the Milky Way and the more obvious constellations.
We have had presentations about Dark Skies at our recent Partnership meetings. What has struck me is the immense value of dark skies to all of us. Stories of ‘Astro’ tourism, benefits for wildlife and improvements for human sleep patterns and therefore our health are well documented.
The fears for increased crime and accidents are apparently not supported by an analysis of statistics, in the countryside, villages and towns. There is also the economic and environmental benefits of reduced use of electricity.
In many cases it appears it is not just the light but the type of light. As Christmas fades into the memory we can all conjure up images in our minds of Christmas lights that we like or disapprove of, think of the hard or soft white lights or even those of blue, red or golden-we will all have our favourites.
The conservation and enhancement of natural beauty, the reason for the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty designation, can be supported through the careful use of light. The tranquillity brought about by dark skies and the benefits to our wildlife are obvious when you think about it.
We can all do our bit, by learning more about the subject, a search for dark skies on the internet will provide all sorts of information or by turning off unnecessary lights, using softer lighting and timers or ensuring that light is only illuminating areas that require it.
I would urge you to get out into one of our outstanding landscapes after dark (there is a new moon on 18 January) and enjoy what nature intended.
First published in the East Anglian Daily Times on 6 January 2018