Dark Skies

Look up at night…

…to experience the thrill of a starry sky or gaze across a moonlit landscape for a memorable, magical experience. These experiences are under threat from the increasing use of artificial light and we are working to maintain the beauty of the dark skies of the North Wessex Downs.

Wilton Windmill, Craig Harvey

We are working to protect our dark skies

In the North Wessex Downs almost 15% of our sky is as dark as anywhere in the country.  Darkness at night is an integral part of the landscape and we want to ensure the AONB remains a place ‘‘where a sense of remoteness and tranquillity predominates and where vast night skies can thrill the eye, unaffected by light pollution”.

Stars over Silbury Hill (credit GreatWestWay.co.uk)

The AONB Partnership is working to preserve dark skies, primarily through helping everyone play their part in minimising light pollution.

Our work includes opportunities for people to learn about and experience the wonders of dark skies, providing advice and guidance for the general public, businesses, and planning and policy makers.

Light Pollution

We all rely on artificial light to live our lives, but wasting light wastes energy, money and adds to climate change.  Unfortunately, unintended light pollution is taking a silent toll.  Increasingly, it is eradicating our access to the wonder of beautiful night skies – more than 90 per cent of the population are denied sight of starry skies.  Excessive artificial light can also disrupt our sleep and potentially lead to serious health issues.  It does not just affect us, it also plays havoc with the feeding and breeding cycles of bats, birds, insects and nocturnal animals.

By increasing our awareness and following some simple principles, we can all help to minimise light pollution and protect dark skies:

  • Install lights only IF needed
  • Shine lights only WHERE needed
  • Use only AS MUCH light as needed
  • Use lights only at times WHEN needed
A Guide to Good External Lighting

Are you considering using external lighting?  If so, this guide will help you to minimise light pollution and contribute to preserving the beautiful dark skies of the North Wessex Downs.

The Guide is in two parts.  Part One is for anyone installing lighting.  Part Two contains information for those setting the framework for development, such as neighbourhood planning groups and local authority policy and planning teams.

Download the guide here
Further Information

Get involved

Go to our Stargazing page to find out how you can experience dark skies.
Download our Dark Skies leaflet which includes a map of stargazing locations.

Download PDF
image credits: Rosette, George Sallit; Wilton Windmill, Craig Harvey; Stars over Silbury Hill, Great West Way