Gazing up at the stars can lead any person to question the wonders of the universe, and in the North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales, you get some of the clearest skies in the whole of the UK. And, their skies will remain that way after they’ve been designated an International Dark Sky Reserve, joining an exclusive global family of Dark Sky Places.
The Yorkshire National Parks are home to some of the darkest skies in the world. It is possible to see thousands of stars, the Milky Way, meteors and even the Northern Lights. The area is vast becoming a popular spot for stargazers, and with good reason.
It’s been a long journey for both National Parks. They have worked hard over several years to achieve this award, with support from councils, parishes, landowners, businesses and renowned astronomical experts. The reserve status covers a combined 3,500 km2 area of northern England, which is by far one of the largest areas in Europe to be designated.
Jim Bailey, Chairman of the North York Moors National Park Authority said: “It’s a wonderful thing to see a meteorite streak across the night sky, or to look up and appreciate the brilliance of the Milky Way. As a child I took these sights for granted, but now it’s absolutely something we need to protect for generations to come.
“This designation as an International Dark Sky Reserve is the culmination of immense dedication and teamwork, and it will continue as we encourage more people to think carefully about our night time environment. From helping nocturnal wildlife to providing a boost for off-season tourism, the North York Moors looks set to have a better, darker future.”
Neil Heseltine, Chair of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority said: “Those lucky enough to live in the Yorkshire Dales National Park know what it is to experience the wonder of some of the darkest skies in the country, and it’s thrilling that the Dales has received recognition for one of its most special qualities.
“Designation provides a fantastic opportunity to encourage tourism in the autumn and winter months, and to work with local authorities, businesses and communities to ensure our dark skies are protected.
“I would like to thank all those who took the time to offer their support, especially our Parish Councils, and everyone who has collectively helped to bring the National Park this incredible accolade.”
These are all the other protected skies across the world:
1. Aoraki Mackenzie (New Zealand)
2. Brecon Beacons National Park (Wales)
3. Central Idaho (U.S.)
4. Cévennes National Park (France)
5. Cranborne Chase (England)
6. Exmoor National Park (England)
7. Kerry (Ireland)
8. Mont-Mégantic (Québec)
9. Moore’s Reserve (South Downs, England)
10. NamibRand Nature Reserve (Namibia)
11. Pic du Midi (France)
12. Rhön (Germany)
13. River Murray (Australia)
14. Snowdonia National Park (Wales)
15. Westhavelland (Germany)
16. Yorkshire Dales National Park (U.K.)