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IOW Dark Skies Status


SnakeyJ
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I`ve had quite a few holidays on the IOW (going this October as well) and I have seen some really good skies whilst there, good luck to everyone involved with the dark sky campaign.

One thing that struck me when we stayed in Shorwell last year was that at night the local houses didn`t flood the area with search light security lamps, very refreshing.

I could step outside my holiday home and drink in the lovely views.

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I`ve had quite a few holidays on the IOW (going this October as well) and I have seen some really good skies whilst there, good luck to everyone involved with the dark sky campaign.

One thing that struck me when we stayed in Shorwell last year was that at night the local houses didn`t flood the area with search light security lamps, very refreshing.

I could step outside my holiday home and drink in the lovely views.

Very nice out at Shorwell - I had friends living out their for a number of years before the retired and moved out to Greece. The western side of the Island is very rural and underdeveloped and once you get South of the E-W ridge of chalk downs your well shielded from LP from the mainland. You would be very close to the the IOWSP site down at Brighstone holiday camp. The Eastern side of the Island is quite heavilly built up with major(ish) towns merging together so the outlook is not so good. I'm located on the Eastern tip at Bembridge, which isn't far off being an island in its own right given perhaps a 1m rise in sea level - my sky here is pretty good though I do suffer the odd neighbours security light.

Re crashtest dummies point on lighthouses, we do have two working light houses (Needles and St Catherines) from the land side these are both well shielded by cliffs and as the beams are horizontally focused they do not seem to course a major problem. I think nowadays they are shielded/masked so that the beams do not shine in to the land. On the other hand, noise pollution from the foghorns can be a nuiscance, though usually at this stage the scope has long since been packed away and its one of those sounds you grow used to and find strangely re-assuring.

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One day I would like to get to the star party at Brighstone.

Last year I visited the old rocket testing site at Alum Bay which was very interesting.

I also visited the Vectis AS during an open night at their observatory in Watery Lane. That`s a very nice facility, I was quite envious. I remember their being a Meade SCT set up in the dome,

unfortunately it was cloudy so we couldn`t get to use it.

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You didn't miss a great deal at the IOWSP this year - except the company, good talks and some nice lectures and kit. The weather was pretty dire overall but we did get a few hours in and one very nice days solar!

I have yet to venture down to Newchurch - the observing evenings are on Thursday nights which doesn't fit to well with the kids at the moment, but should get the chance over the summer hols!

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I didnt realise the lighthouses were that well contained but surely they affect the southern viewing to some extent?

I've only been to the IOW Star Party once this year and the weather was pretty grim with low cloud/sea fog for most of the weekend, for the short periods when the skies did clear it was incredible with the only visible LP being a very distant orange glow to the north over Southampton and to the West over Bournemouth. No obvious/viewable LP from either lighthouse. Given the shape of the coastline I think you would have to be a couple of miles off shore to see the Needles Lighthouse directly and perhaps a further out to see St Catherines.

By coincidence I'm seeing Bill Johnston, who's one of the organisers and will ask if they've had any issues with this at previous events.

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You'll certainly have better skies this side of the water (I used to live in Gosport many years ago!). The SW coast is probably best area in terms of minimising any LP, but could be worth popping in to the VAS Observatory at Newchurch, which is open on Thursday evenings to meet some like minded soles and I'm keen to get out if home commitments allow.

Worth booking in advance on the ferries (as cheaper) - and Red Funnel Southampton-Cowes often better value than Wightlink Portsmouth-Fishbourne.

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As far as I can tell, "dark sky status" is a restriction on lighting at a particular area - and I'm all for that. But obviously it doesn't affect whatever light pollution comes from outside the designated area, so presumably an area with dark sky status could still have light pollution from more distant sources. Anyway, good luck with the Isle of Wight initiative.

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As far as I can tell, "dark sky status" is a restriction on lighting at a particular area - and I'm all for that. But obviously it doesn't affect whatever light pollution comes from outside the designated area, so presumably an area with dark sky status could still have light pollution from more distant sources. Anyway, good luck with the Isle of Wight initiative.

Not certain of the exact procedure, but I believe you are tested over a period of time and have to meet fairly stringent minimum NELM/SQM readings - I think there also has to be some local authority planning participation. There's a whole load of info/resource available at http://www.darksky.org, but sure some of the more experienced AS members would be able to shed more (or hopefully less) light on the subject.

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Couldn't find much detail at the Dark Sky site - a lot of the procedure seems to be under review and "coming soon" (or maybe I was just looking in the wrong place). If anyone knows of the SQM criteria from former applications (e.g. Galloway Forest) I'd be interested to know.

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I'll see if I can get in touch with Brian Curd at Vectis Astronomy Society and get some further information on this - they had the launch event on Friday evening (24th May) with Bob Mizon (BAA) and Martin Morgan Taylor (Board Member of International Dark Skies Association. Unfortunately I was away camping with the kids for the w/end, but will post any follow up information/links as soon as I can catch up.

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A lot of the light pollution in the north of the island is from Fawley Refinery and Bob Mizon said at the meeting on Friday that CfDS actually visited the refinery not long ago to speak to them. The refinery's lights date from the 1960s, are very inefficient and the refinery people are apparently planning to change them, or are in the process of changing them, which should improve things no end. Of course, Portsmouth, and to a lesser extent Southampton and Bournemouth, also contribute to skyglow but if the refinery change their lights to the cut-off ones, that will make a very positive difference.

The road lighting on the island is also in the process of being changed to cut-off LEDs. They started in Cowes and, although I've not been there at night, what they've done so far has made a positive difference.

Now, for the clouds to vanish...

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A lot of the light pollution in the north of the island is from Fawley Refinery and Bob Mizon said at the meeting on Friday that CfDS actually visited the refinery not long ago to speak to them. The refinery's lights date from the 1960s, are very inefficient and the refinery people are apparently planning to change them, or are in the process of changing them, which should improve things no end. Of course, Portsmouth, and to a lesser extent Southampton and Bournemouth, also contribute to skyglow but if the refinery change their lights to the cut-off ones, that will make a very positive difference.

The road lighting on the island is also in the process of being changed to cut-off LEDs. They started in Cowes and, although I've not been there at night, what they've done so far has made a positive difference.

Now, for the clouds to vanish...

I didn't finish my sentence in bold and left it late for an edit - They started in Cowes and, although I've not been there at night, what they've done so far has made a positive difference, according to what I have heard.

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I didn't finish my sentence in bold and left it late for an edit - They started in Cowes and, although I've not been there at night, what they've done so far has made a positive difference, according to what I have heard.

Welcome FJAstronomy - the PFI Highways project will be a long slow train, but hopefully the lighting side of it will be driven forward quite quickly as 'low hanging fruit' with the bonus of saved energy. I hadn't noticed any changes in Cowes, but will keep an eye out for the new street lighting.

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Welcome FJAstronomy - the PFI Highways project will be a long slow train, but hopefully the lighting side of it will be driven forward quite quickly as 'low hanging fruit' with the bonus of saved energy. I hadn't noticed any changes in Cowes, but will keep an eye out for the new street lighting.

Thanks Jake. Not wanting to derail the thread but where are you on the island? I'm near Sandown.

Brian Curd said the other evening that he noticed a difference and that the cut off really *is* cut off. Hopefully once more of the new lights are installed, the difference will be more noticeable. The only problem I see is, after a wet day, there might be more light scattered up off wet roads and pavements because the lights are brighter.

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I'm out at the Eastern tip in Bembridge - not too much street lighting to worry about here and my skies are pretty dark, barring the odd security light on adjacent houses and garages. Fortunately most of my immediate neighbours are retired, so generally turn in and turn their lights off nice and early ;)

The best skies I've experienced over here have been the SW coastline (along the Military Road) and around Sandford/Godshill/Niton - though I think we're fairly well blessed in comparison to the majority of the South coast on England.

How was the turnout/level of interest for Friday's meeting? Do you know if Brian or VAS are going to do a website to support the campaign and if any future meeting dates were agreed?

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This was the first VAS meeting I'd been to in a while but the turnout was up on what I'd seen before, although I think it could have been better. I think that anything online to support the campaign will be via wightastronomy.org, the Vectis AS website, and I don't recall anything being said about future meetings. I think that, once they have the petition filled with as many signatures as possible and letters of support done, the committee will continue to work behind the scenes but keep us updated via the website and the New Zenith newsletter - in fact the next NZ will be a dark skies special.

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Thanks FJ, nothing new on the wightastronomy.org site as yet, but then iit has been a bank holiday weekend ;) Hopefully I can drop by at Watery Lane and sign the petition and say a formal hello to VAS this Thursday evening - I've been trying to do this for a long time but have never quite managed!

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Couldn't find much detail at the Dark Sky site - a lot of the procedure seems to be under review and "coming soon" (or maybe I was just looking in the wrong place). If anyone knows of the SQM criteria from former applications (e.g. Galloway Forest) I'd be interested to know.

IDSA site now has their new guidelines. They designate sites as "parks", "reserves" or "communities", and as well as strictures on lighting, access etc, the specification for sky darkness is in three tiers: "Gold" is SQ 21.75 or higher (Bortle Class 1-3, NELM 6.8+), "Silver" is SQ 21.00-21.74 (Bortle 3-5, NELM 6.0-6.7) and "Bronze" is 20.00-20.99 (Bortle 5-6, NELM 5.0-5.9).

Galloway Forest is a gold park.

Exmoor and Brecon Beacons are both silver reserves.

Isle of Sark is a community - they don't seem to have tiers for community status.

http://www.darksky.org/night-sky-conservation/dark-sky-parks

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