• Cranborne Chase AONB, Shears Building, Stone Lane Industrial Estate, Wimborne, BH21 1HB  Tel: 01725 517417

Help ensure the dark starry skies of the AONB continue to be seen and appreciated

Knowlton ChurchDark night skies are one of the very special qualities of the Cranborne Chase AONB. National data continues to show the general loss of dark night skies across the country and an increasing risk of light pollution across the AONB.

In order to conserve and enhance the quality of our night skies the AONB's Management Plan 2014-2019 has a clear objective to apply for the prestigious Dark Night Sky status for the AONB.

There are currently only two other areas in England that have been formally recognised for their low levels of light pollution, namely Exmoor Dark Sky Reserve and Northumberland Dark Sky Park. With your help Cranborne Chase AONB could be the third!

Download our Dark Skies Leaflet

Latest News..

Stargazing Event

The venue and date of our next Stargazing event has now been confirmed.

Tuesday 13th December 2016, Sixpenny Handley Village Hall - starting at approximately 7.15pm following the Annual Forum meeting.

Sixpenny Handley Village Hall - download map
Common Road

Please book a place by emailing info@cranbornechase.org.uk or by calling the office on 01725 517417.

Cranborne Chase AONB ranks 8th darkest out of the 34 AONBs

CPRE Dark Skies MapNew interactive maps offer most detailed ever picture of England’s light pollution and dark skies. The most detailed ever satellite maps of England’s light pollution and dark skies, were recently released by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE). They show that 52% of Cranborne Chase AONB is in Band 1 – which is the darkest category.

The maps, produced using satellite images captured at 1.30am throughout September 2015, show that as well as having 52% of the AONB in the darkest category, 40% of the AONB is in the next darkest category.  This makes the Cranborne Chase AONB one of the darkest places in England!

View the maps online

Cranborne Chase AONB is in the process of working towards International Dark Sky Reserve status and this new research provides clear evidence that this nationally Protected Area does indeed have some of the darkest skies in the land. There is, however, no legislation that can be enforced to protect dark night skies. To achieve International Dark Sky Reserve status, all those responsible for lighting (Local Authorities, Highway Departments, businesses and individual residents) are required to ensure that light pollution (light escaping sideways and upwards) is reduced to an absolute minimum.

CPRE is calling on the local authorities which fall within the AONB boundary to use these maps to identify areas with light pollution and target action to reduce it, as well as identifying existing dark skies that need protecting.  

Dark Sky Pledge

  - help to gain International Dark Sky Reserve status for Cranborne chase AONB!
Go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/NL375VD and take the Dark Sky Pledge if you’d like to support this work.

Cranborne Chase AONB Partnership is working closely with the British Astronomical Association’s (BAA) ‘Campaign for Dark Skies’ and Wessex Astronomical Association to achieve International Dark Sky Reserve status. Bob Mizon of BAA has provided some extremely helpful information on lighting that can be found below.

Very popular stargazing evenings were held throughout last autumn/winter with more events planned for this coming season.

Lighting Types, qualities and Impacts - Bob Mizon Commission for Dark Skies (CfDS) - March 2016

This paper by Bob Mizon looks at best practice relating to external lighting - Different types of lighting through the years, terminology guide, threats to the environment from blue-rich white lighting, putting light where it is needed, part-night switch-offs and common misconceptions met when discussing quality lighting and good practice...

Download Lighting: types, qualities and impacts (1.2Mb)

International Dark Sky Reserve - 28th September 2015

Dark Night SkiesOn light pollution maps, Cranborne Chase AONB stands out as an island of darkness, still enjoying a starry ‘dark night sky’ that most people can only dream of. The AONB has set itself the goal of gaining this status applying to the International Dark Sky Association (IDA), by the end of 2016.

The AONB Partnership is very grateful to The British Astronomical Association (BAA) that is guiding work on the application. It involves taking dark sky meter readings across the AONB to identify the ‘core’ area where skies are the darkest and a ‘buffer area’ around it. The first set of readings look very promising!

Dates for your diary: Friday 21st October 2016, New Remembrance Hall, Charlton,  - 7pm till late.

The New Remembrance Hall - download map
The Remembrance Field

Benefits of dark night skies:

  • People: At its simplest, our sleep can be disrupted by too much light at night. At worst, it can lead to more serious health issues
  • Wildlife: Many birds and animals are affected by stray light at night, affecting their breeding cycles and feeding habits. Controlling stray light helps bats, birds, moths and other nocturnal creatures to go about their business and thrive
  • Enjoyment and education: There is increasing interest, wonder and amazement at the incredible array of stars above us. Stargazing is a fabulous educational activity for all
  • Money: Substantial savings can be made by Local Authorities, businesses and individuals from turning off or dimming down unnecessary lighting
  • Saving energy: There is no point shining light into the sky. Energy wastage can be considerably reduced by ensuring light is directed only where it is needed
  • Rural tourism: Other areas designated for their dark skies have seen greater visitor numbers, even in winter, leading to increased business for B&Bs, retailers, and others catering for visitors
  • Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty: 50% of the AONB is above us! Dark night skies are definitely outstanding, natural and beautiful, and should be conserved and enhanced along with the rest of the AONB

How you can help:

  • Show your support by taking the ‘Dark Skies Pledge
  • On clear nights, see if you can spot certain starry constellations that serve as markers of a truly dark sky and let us know.
  • Record night time lighting in your area, so that the AONB can explore ways of removing unnecessary artificial glare from the night sky
  • Improve the dark night sky by adjusting any of your lights downwards that shine above the horizontal. Nobody need turn any existing lights off but rather confine the light to the place to be illuminated

For further information, pledge your support, also, search online for various free downloadable star gazing apps for your mobile.

Take the Cranborne Chase AONB Dark Skies Pledge

Planning & Transportation Seminar 6th November 2014

On Thursday 6th November the Cranborne Chase AONB held its Planning & Transportation annual seminar. The aim of this year's seminar was to enable all those who operate within and around this AONB to understand how they can help realise Dark Night Skies status with the International Dark Sky Association, and sustain this status when it is obtained.

There are many reasons for getting this status; cost savings for local authorities; contribution to the rural economy particularly in the slower winter months; ecological benefits; and enhanced tranquillity resulting in a positive influence on people's physical and psychological well-being. Other benefits include being an educational resource for local schools, and peripheral enterprises such as telescope hire, star camps and astronomy-based retail have all been successful in night-sky-protected areas.

There is currently an upsurge of interest in astronomy and the night skies - evidenced by the popularity of programmes such as 'Stargazing Live' with Brian Cox. However, half of our environment has no protection in law and the current relighting of the UK with bright white LEDs threatens it further. Part of the ongoing commitment of being a Dark Night Sky reserve is helping people to achieve better lighting schemes with less light pollution and accompanying reduced energy usage.

Our seminar included presentations by three national experts - Bob Mizon - UK Coordinator, British Astronomical Association Campaign for Dark Skies (CfDS), Malcolm Mackness Director of Lighting Consultancy & Design Services Ltd, and Howard Lawrence.

Bob Mizon spoke about why Dark Night Sky status is important, and included some background information about the best way to approach the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA). Malcolm Mackness discussed lighting policies, understanding lighting schemes, how successful lighting can be achieved, and poor lighting schemes corrected. Howard Lawrence is fresh from revising the CfDS lighting guidance document, and focussed on pollution-free lighting for transportation and highway situations as well providing an introduction to the latest LED technology, particularly avoiding the use of blue-white LEDs which have wildlife and skyglow problems.


Bob Mizon - The importance of dark night skies Powerpoint Show (1.5Mb)

Download Lighting: types, qualities and impacts (1.2Mb)

Malcolm Mackness - Combined presentations Powerpoint Show (3Mb)

Howard Lawrence - Lighting and Dark Skies Powerpoint Show (1Mb)