Welsh Towns go Dark Sky to See the Stars

Turning off lights to let the night sky shine.


View of the milky way in the night sky.

(Triff / Shutterstock.com)

The night sky is a thing of wonder. Over the course of human history the stars and constellations have been used to navigate on sea and land. They have been a source of scientific curiosity and the inspiration for the stories people tell about themselves. 

As electric lights in streets, homes, and businesses at night have become so much more prevalent, so too, the ability to see the stars has become more difficult. Now, a town and village in Wales are hoping to change that by going Dark Sky at night, reported The BBC.

According to the organization, Dark Sky International, going dark sky helps to restore the nighttime environment for wildlife and protects communities from the harmful effects of light pollution

A Dark Sky community
For six years the residents of Presteigne and Norton in Wales have worked to become a Dark Sky community, according to Eco Watch.  But what does that mean in practical terms?

Presteigne and Norton made concerted efforts to lower the amount of light pollution in the communities. The 380 street lamps in the area were retrofitted with 2200 K LED lights. In addition, after midnight 40 percent were programmed to go off, and the other 60 percent were programmed to switch to half their intensity.

Residents have also begun to turn off their lights in their homes and in their business earlier, according to the BBC. The positive results were immediate.

 “The consequential reduction in light pollution has also enabled us to see the glory of the night sky clearly, a legacy that our children and grandchildren will continue to enjoy,” Leigh-Harling Bowen, the leader of the Presteigne and Norton Dark Skies Community said in a Dark Sky International press release.

Not only for people
However, it is not only, or even primarily, the people of Presteigne and Norton who are benefitting from the newly dark nights. “These benefits include an investment in the use of efficient, low-energy ‘dark skies’ streetlights that have reduced our impact on the environment. This change has resulted in a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, along with a beneficial effect on wildlife, especially night-flying insects, birds, and bats,” said Bowen.

Originally, there were some initial concerns regarding safety, the reality is that most people can barely notice the changes in lighting when walking through the towns at night, reported the BBC. 

By using lighting in smart ways, these Welsh innovators have ensured that it is less of a pollutant while maintaining a sense of safety and security for their residents. 

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