Mapping out Northumberland Dark Sky Park

The night sky over Northumberland National Park and Kielder Water and Forest Park recently became the largest area of protected sky in Europe – and Ordnance Survey data helped it become a reality.


When an area is granted dark-sky status by The International Dark Skies Association this means that the night sky is protected and lighting controls are in place to prevent light pollution. Now named Northumberland Dark Sky Park, following a two-year campaign to protect the 579-square mile area , the gold tier site is recognised as one of the best places to stargaze in Europe, joining just 11 other sites around the world.

The park’s partners aren’t asking everyone to turn off their lights, but want to encourage the use of better lighting using the latest technology which will shine light downwards where and when it’s needed and protect the night sky. A new lighting management plan will guide planning authorities in ensuring new developments take account of the night sky – and our data was used to help with defining the area and identifying lighting that needed adjusting.

AddressBase Plus was used to identify all of the properties that fall within the Northumberland Dark Sky Boundary; the team then printed off maps and visited each property to perform lighting assessments.  By using AddressBase Plus they saved a considerable amount of time, not having to visit barns and non-habitable buildings that do not emit any external lighting. This in turn has allowed them to focus their effort on analysing the extent of light being emitted from habitable buildings.

In addition, a combination of OS MasterMap and our 1:25 000 Scale Colour Raster and 1:50 000 Scale Colour Raster products were used to define the Dark Sky Park boundary. You can see the extent of the park in this PDF.

If you would like to visit Northumberland Dark Sky Park and make the most of their world-class observatory and their star-gazing programme, visit their website.

Image reproduced courtesy of Northumberland Dark Sky Park. 

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