Isle of Man Dark Skies can lighten up the Night

Thu, 17 Nov 2016


For all you stargazers out there who may be living in a built up area, where the strip lights of the local kebab shop or the nearby floodlit football stadium are impeding the twinkle of distant planets, here is some news to “brighten” your mood (pardon the pun).

At this time of year, as the days shorten and the opportunities to point a telescope at the night sky increase, you may want to consider popping over to the Isle of Man to satiate your favourite hobby.

For a start, you may be surprised to know that the Island is a well established base for the international space and satellite industry.  What’s more, despite its relatively small size and as unlikely as it may seem, the Isle of Man is registered as the fifth most likely nation on Earth to send a man back to the Moon!

Although this statistic may be hard to fathom (then again, who would have thought Donald Trump would become President of the United States?), here’s a fact which may be somewhat more down to earth.

According to the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council, the Isle of Man is THE best place to stargaze in the British Isles.

The accolade follows news that the Dark Sky Discovery Network has designated no fewer than 26 “Dark Sky Discovery Sites” across the Island. This happens to be the largest concentration of Dark Skies sites in the British Isles and includes many locations lying in some of the Island’s best beauty and heritage sites. As examples, Cregneash Historical Village, Rushen Abbey, Peel Castle, Port Soderick Brooghs, Axnfell Plantation, Smeale Nature Reserve, Niarbyl, The Sound, Fort Island and Sulby Reservoir are all on the list.

Light pollution means that more than 85 per cent of the British population has never seen a truly dark sky, but with its less dense population and low light levels, it seems the Isle of Man provides the perfect spot for viewing the heavens.

On a clear night, you can see the Milky Way and, if you’re lucky, the Northern Lights.  And famous constellations such as The Plough are clearly visible with the naked eye.

Howard Parkin FRAS, who runs his own astronomy consultancy company, AstroManx, and is Chairman of the Isle of Man Astronomical Society, started the bid for Dark Sky Discovery status on the Isle of Man in 2012 and his efforts have been rightly recognised.  “It’s great news that the Isle of Man now has so many Dark Sky Discovery Sites, because they are so rare around the rest of Britain,” he said. “With light levels so low, the night sky on the Isle of Man really will amaze anyone who takes the time to look up - from the novice to the seasoned professional.”

Angela Byrne, Head of Tourism on the Isle of Man said:  “To have one site given Dark Sky Discovery status is an honour, but to have 26 in total is quite unbelievable.

“Our little Island is a world away from the bright lights of the mainland's big cities, and we really hope that this accolade inspires people to visit us and experience our incredible surroundings which, of course, include the night sky.”

So if you fancy a trip across the Irish Sea anytime soon to witness a celestial sensation, as long as you supply the telescopes, we’ll arrange all your travel and accommodation. 

     

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