Join the Big Dipper campaign and help protect our night sky They are some of the darkest skies in the south of England, and a new campaign is urging people to help retain the sense of wonder over Cranborne Chase.

The Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is backing the Big Dipper scheme, which aims to raise public awareness of light pollution and urge people to help conserve our starry dark skies.

Many outside lights, especially LED floodlights and security lights, can be too bright and are installed in such a way that much of the light is directed up into the night sky, contributing to the orangey-white sky glow above our towns and cities, which spreads out into the countryside.

With the nights drawing in, the campaign, which is backed by the Commission for Dark Skies, aims to encourage property owners with outside lighting to assess how much lighting they have and to ensure where possible that lamps are dipped downwards.

“It's important that efforts are sustained to cut light pollution further so we can all marvel at the night sky wherever we may live," says Sir Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal, who is also supporting the initiative.

"This campaign deserves wide support.”

The night skies over Cranborne Chase AONB are some of the darkest in the south of England, and these are worth protecting.

Amanda Scott, Dark Skies Advisor with the AONB, however stresses that reducing night-time light pollution does not necessarily mean having less lighting: it’s about having the right kind of external lighting.

“The AONB is preparing to apply for International Dark Sky Reserve status in 2019. I sometimes get asked whether this means we want to prevent external lighting on the AONB, and the answer is a definite ‘no’.

"We are not asking people living and working here to struggle in the darkness, but by taking a simple step to dip our lights we can reduce light pollution and retain that sense of wonder we feel when we look up to the night sky.

"Poorly installed outside lighting can be detrimental to the quality of our dark skies. Many of the newer security lights being installed emit a very harsh blue-white light, which scatters further into the sky, blotting out our view of the stars.

"The impact is often made worse by the fact such units are angled outwards to increase the spread of light. A single, poorly installed floodlight can be seen for miles around. The night-time environment is a crucial natural resource for people, wildlife and for the rural visitor economy which benefits from increasing public interest in astro-tourism.”

The campaign is asking people to: • Ensure lights point down and are fully shielded.

• Only illuminate areas you need to and don’t leave lights on all night - use a timer or motion sensor.

• Employ lighting that is no brighter than necessary.

• If possible, don’t use LEDs emitting bright white/blue light, but rather warmer colours.

The power of a light is best characterised by its lumen output, usually listed on the packaging. About 500 lumens is ample to illuminate a back garden.

Many LED products also state the light’s colour temperature. Units of 3,000K and below, which produce a warm white colour, are less harmful to the night-time environment than 4,000K and 5,000K lights.

For advice on minimising light pollution visit or Further information on light pollution and interactive maps can be found at Do you gaze up into the sky on a clear night, and wish you had an astronomer close at hand to tell you all about the stars and spectacular constellations above? Go along to a Stargazing event organised by Cranborne Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) this month, and you’ll have exactly that.

Astronomer Bob Mizon of the Commission for Dark Skies will entertain visitors with tales of the wonders of our pristine night sky above Cranborne Chase and its thousands of stars, and Amanda Scott, Dark Skies Advisor with the AONB, will fill you in on progress with the AONB’s bid for International Dark Sky Reserve status.

Afterwards, Bob and members of the Wessex Astronomical Society will lead the audience outside for an evening of spectacular stargazing. The event even has the chance of meteors, with the Geminid meteor shower being almost at its peak.

If the weather isn’t suitable for stargazing, don’t be put off, as there will be alternative astronomy-related entertainment.

Cranborne Chase’s previous stargazing events have proven extremely popular, and the team look forward to welcoming night sky enthusiasts to the event, which takes place on Thursday, December 13 December at The New Remembrance Hall in The Remembrance Field, Charlton, Shaftesbury.

The event commences at 7pm and lasts for around two to two-and-a-half hours, depending on weather conditions. The cost for adults is £5 each (cash or cheque on the night, to include a free tea or coffee), with no charge for children. Advance booking required.

T: 01725 517417 E: