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Dark skies

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dark skies interpretation panel at Minninglow

The night sky

The night sky is inspiring, from the thousands of stars visible on a clear dark night, to the arc of nebulous light rising across the sky that is our Galaxy, the Milky Way. It is also amazing to think that with the naked eye we can view our neighbouring galaxy, Andromeda, which is 2.5 million light years away. However, over the past 100 years, our skies have become more difficult to view as they have become obscured by man-made light pollution. Unless we act now, there is the potential for future generations to grow up never experiencing the wonder and beauty of a truly dark night sky.

Light pollution

Light pollution is artificial light that shines where it is neither wanted nor needed. Not only does light pollution have an impact on people's enjoyment of the night sky, it has also been shown to have an impact on quality of life, as well as wasting energy.

The Peak District National Park is lived in and visited by many and is an area of the countryside that currently has some dark skies. We are working with others to ensure that our special landscapes and skies are there for future generations to enjoy. We are looking to pursue international recognition for the quality of the national park's night skies.

Dark sky places

The Peak District National Park Authority, Nottingham Trent University and the Science and Technology Facilities Council have been working together to identify dark sky discovery sites where there are good conditions for stargazing.

There are now 3 dark sky sites at national park car parks located at:

  • Surprise View, off the A6187 near Hathersage
  • Parsley Hay, off the A515 near Hartington (nearest postcode SK17 0DG)
  • Minninglow, off the A515 at Pikehall (nearest postcode DE4 2PN)

The Arbor Low and Minninglow panels are both beside the High Peak Trail.

These sites are easily accessible and are well known for their panoramic views in the day time. The astronomy interpretation panels in place at these sites will help people to explore the night skies. The panels are changed each season.

Please note: When accessing dark sky discovery sites, the ground underfoot can be rough, wet and muddy. Warm, waterproof clothing and sensible shoes and a torch are essential for these dark places.

Acknowledgements

The Peak District National Park Authority acknowledges the work of the International Dark Sky Association, Globe at Night, the Campaign to Protect Rural England, the Campaign for Dark Skies, Nottingham Trent University CELS, the Science and Technology Facilities Council, and Macclesfield Astronomical Society.

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