This North Yorkshire village is taking its Dark Sky reserve title seriously and turning down its lights to have a better view of the Milky Way.
Hawnby in the North York Moors National Park is the first village in England to swap its streetlights and more than 100 other outdoor lights for dark skies-friendly lighting in an attempt to cut down light pollution to allow visitors and residents to see the stars.
There are only 21 international dark sky reserves in the world with the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors National Parks both included.
The whole community is getting on board with the initiative by the North York Moors national park and the landowner of the Mexborough Estates.
Due to the measure put in place, visitors will see the Milky Way, planets and meteors at any time of year with sightings of the Northern lights in the right conditions.
Meanwhile, grants have been given to businesses in a different national park, the Yorkshire Dales, to help reduce light pollution there.
The dark skies officer for the North York Moors national park, Mike Hawtin, said: “We’re aiming to show how relatively easy it can be for communities to take a similar approach to the one at Hawnby and help us protect the pristine qualities of our dark skies.
“There are a few other places in Wales and Scotland which have converted streetlights to become dark sky-friendly towns or villages, but we think Hawnby will be the first village to go even further by converting both street and external building lighting when the project completes later this year.”
Alongside the Hawnby project, the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority is also working to safeguard its night sky, with four Dales businesses being awarded grants to make the changes.
In the Yorkshire Dales, staff at The Station Inn said they were already running stargazing evenings, which had proved incredibly popular with people.
Both National Parks have been a part of the sky reserves since 2020 after a five-year process. Places have to have low light meter readings, support from more than 80% of the local population and dark-sky-friendly lighting
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