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Dark Skies friendly lighting

Rawcliffe goat pen and wood shed after lighting fittedRawcliffe goat pen and wood shed after lighting fitted

The North York Moors National Park is one of the best places in the country to see stars because of the big open skies with low light pollution levels and clear horizons, and we can all play a part in keeping them that way.

Artificial light at night is needed for many reasons, so the key to protecting our Dark Skies isn’t simply to remove all lights but to light only what you need, when you need it, and at an appropriate level and type for the situation. Incorrectly used modern bright LED lighting can have a significant impact on not just stargazing but also nocturnal wildlife habitats and even human health.

To help control the spread of light pollution, here’s some handy advice:

Is the light needed?

Is the light needed icon

Before installing or replacing a light, consider the purpose of the light and what its impact will be on the surrounding area, including wildlife and neighbours. Reflective paints or luminous markers can be used as alternatives for marking curbs, steps and paths.

Light only where needed

Light only where needed icon

Direct light only to where it is needed.
Consider pointing your floodlights downwards or change to specially designed downlights to reduce wasted stray or upward light that can cause nuisance to others. If coach style lights must be used, see our advice on light levels and colour temperature below.

Light only when needed

Light only when needed icon

It is rare that lighting needs to be permanently on. Use timers and/or motion detectors to ensure light is dimmed when possible and off when not needed. Well-positioned lights using sensors are better for detecting intruders than poorly positioned lights that are constantly on, which permanently show what’s on offer from a distance and create shadows for criminals to lurk in.

Light at a level suitable to the need

Keep light to a suitable level Icon

Light should be no brighter than necessary for the task. Typical outside doorway lights should be rated on the box as a maximum of 500 lumens. Where higher light levels are needed for an operational or safety purpose, two smaller lights pointing downwards are better than one big upward angled light, which simply causes glare and nuisance.

Choose the correct colour

Choose the correct colour icon

Short wavelength (cool blue) light produces more sky glow and is most harmful to wildlife and human health. Select lights or bulbs that are a maximum of 3000k and preferably 2700k (this is stated on teh box or in the product description when looking online).

Here’s a handy home audit guide to follow from the International Dark-Sky Association. Be sure to consult a qualified electrician for installation and a lighting engineer for any operational health and safety needs.

Home Audit Graphic

The International Dark-Sky Association has more information on home lighting.

We’d love to hear about improvements you’ve made. You can email us at

In addition to your own actions at home, you can ask your MP to join the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Dark Skies. By encouraging your MP to do so you will help to strengthen their voice and introduce legislation to protect our dark skies for generations to come.

There's more information on light pollution through the UK Dark Skies Partnership, an informal collaboration of professional organisations, institutions and UK protected landscapes. Its specific commitments are the protection and improvement of dark skies over both International Dark-Sky Association Dark Sky Places and others, and the progressive reduction of both urban and rural light pollution through better lighting practice.