When did you last look up at the stars?
The Cranborne Chase has the most amazing, clear night skies because of low light pollution. Dark night skies have multiple benefits. There is a growing body of evidence which shows that avoiding light pollution increases the health and well-being of humans, as well as the natural world that surrounds them.
Cutting down on light pollution helps to decrease carbon emissions. It has been estimated that poor design and use of the 7.5 million streetlights in the UK, results in a total of 830,000 tonnes of unnecessary carbon dioxide (CO2) pollution each year.
Our skyscape represents part of our cultural heritage and potentially also allows us to gain a greater understanding of our own existence; after all, this is where we live. It also allows us to time travel. If we look up at the constellation Orion and focus on the star Betelgeuse we are seeing light that left that constellation 640 years ago; in effect we are looking back at things that happened in the 14th century. The carbon, of which you were made, was formed in the heart of a dying star.
Using Charity Impact Funding we are working on holding a one-day event with the Cranborne Chase Landscape Trust to explore some of these benefits with a wide range of organisations and individuals.
There is significant potential for colleagues within the University to develop long-term relationships and research projects based in a very special area and working with communities that are in effect, just up the road.
Of particular interest is the potential longitudinal nature of such studies, as currently Cranborne Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (CCAONB) is bidding for International Dark Skies Reserve Status. What is the current situation? How will they get Reserve Status? How will this affect the area and its communities, now and in the future?
Don’t be afraid of the dark!
If any colleagues are interested in this work and making connections with the Landscape Trust and the AONB please feel free to contact Dr Sean Beer (firstname.lastname@example.org). For more information on the Dark Night Skies of the Cranborne Chase go to http://www.chasingstars.org.uk/ .