British Channel Island named as first ′dark sky′ community | Science| In-depth reporting on science and technology | DW | 02.02.2011
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British Channel Island named as first 'dark sky' community

Sark, population 600, is now the world's first community officially designated to have completely clear, dark skies. The carless island hopes to draw new tourism, especially space enthusiasts and amateur astronomers.

The sky as seen from the island of Sark

Sark has little artificial light to obstruct views of the night sky

Sark, a British Channel Island has been designated the first international "dark sky community" by the US-based International Dark-Sky Association.

Dark sky enthusiasts are concerned with light pollution so that people can see stars better, and to cut down on energy usage.

On Monday, the group said that this tiny, carless, 5.45 square kilometer (two square mile) island with a population of just 600 people is a perfect location from which to observe astronomical phenomena.

The island has no public lighting, and the IDSA says that "a rich Milky Way is visible" from the island.

"Sark becoming the world's first dark sky island is a tremendous feather in our environmental cap, which can only enhance our appeal," said Paul Williams, chairman of the Sark government's agricultural committee, in an interview with the Agence France Presse.

Sark aerial photo

Sark is a small island off the coast of Normandy in northern France

Praise from astronomy experts

British astronomers were also quick to praise this decision.

"This is a great achievement for Sark," the president of the Royal Astronomical Society, Roger Davies, said in a statement.

"People around the world are become increasingly fascinated by astronomy as we discover more about our universe, and the creation of the world's first dark sky island in the British Isles can only help to increase that appetite. I hope this leads to many more people experiencing the wonders of a truly dark sky."

Author: Cyrus Farivar (AFP)
Editor: Mark Hallam

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