While designating areas as nature reserves and marine reserves is quite common and had been done for many centuries, doing the same for the skies is still quite rare - But thanks to the ever increasing population, saving them from light pollution is becoming a pressing problem, one that needs to be curbed before it's too late.
So far, only four areas - Quebec's Mount Megantic, Devon's Exmoor National Park, New Zealand's Aoraki Mackenzie and Namibia's NamibRand Nature Reserve have been granted the status of 'International Dark Sky Reserve', which like its counterparts on earth is protected by special regulations, in this case all geared toward preventing light pollution. On Friday, February 19th, Brecon Beacons National Park in Wales, became the fifth destination in the world to join this elite group.
Getting this exclusive designation was not easy - It entailed an extensive application process, surveys by local astronomers to determine the levels of light pollution and audits by light engineers to determine the current light situation of the area. Most important of all, it required complete cooperation from the local community who did their bit, by holding a 'star-gazing' party and even, organizing a community light switch off. And, while the status does not mean they will have to completely turn off their lights, going forward, they will forever have to be careful about using them so that they don't 'pollute' the pristine skies they live under.
Known to possess the darkest skies in the United Kingdom, Brecon Beacons National Park is a haven for stargazers. On a clear night, locals attest that people can see the Milky Way, numerous constellations, bright nebulas and even meteor showers with just, their naked eyes.
This new status will not only keep these views intact, but also, help with the environment, local wildlife and of course boost tourism - It's no wonder that Environment Minister John Griffiths is calling the accreditation a 'massive coup'.
Resources; dailymail.co.uk, bbc.co.uk