What is a Dark Sky Park?
Dark Sky Park is more than just dark, it is a place where exceptional starry skies are protected and valued as an important educational, cultural, scenic and natural resource. By protecting our dark skies we help ecosystems and wildlife, attract off- season tourism and reduce our carbon footprint.
In March 2021 Lough Gur will submit an application to the International Dark Sky Association for Dark Sky Park accreditation. This status would not affect your rights, limit development or dictate what you do with your own lights. It is simply acknowledgement that Lough Gur has exceptional dark sky quality and is a way to acknowledge it. Application has to made each year and will be retracted if educational programmes and interaction with school groups to inform students about effects on environment is not maintained. Accreditation is a way to support the educational work that we do.
What is the International Dark Sky Association?
Since 1988, the International Dark-sky Association (IDA) (a non-profit organisation based in the USA) has been working to preserve and protect the night time environment and our heritage of dark skies through environmentally responsible outdoor lighting. The IDA is the world recognised authority on light pollution.
Why are dark skies so important?
Millions of children throughout the world will never see The Milky Way because of light pollution (an inappropriate or excessive use of artificial light). Light pollution not only steals our view of the stars, it wastes money and has adverse effects on our health, wildlife and environment. Dark Sky places preserve the starry skies, inspire creativity and reconnect us with the natural beauty of the night.
If I live near a Dark Sky Park will I be asked to turn off my lights?
No, absolutely not. We are not asking residents to turn light off or make unnecessary changes. Instead, we hope to encourage people to use less and/or more appropriate lighting as and when necessary. We have provided more details in our section on Light Pollution along with a downloadable guide.
How will it affect me?
We will promote the opportunities available to local businesses and communities through the dark sky project such as an increased tourist market and longer tourist season, based on astronomy and appreciation of the nocturnal environment, particularly during the quieter, winter months.
If you have specific questions about Dark Sky Park and what it means for you please contact [email protected] and we would be happy to answer any questions that you may have.