Dark Skies friendly lighting
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?
Before installing or replacing a light, consider the purpose of the light and what the 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
Directed light only to where it is needed
Consider pointing your floodlights downwards or change to asymmetric downlights to reduce wasted stray or upward light that can cause nuisance to others. If coach style lights must be used, then see advice on light levels and colour temperature.
Light only when needed
It is rare that lighting needs to be permanently on. Use controls such as timers and or motion detectors to ensure light is dimmed when possible and off when not needed. Light using well positioned sensors is often better for detecting intruders than lights which permanently show what’s on offer from a distance and create shadows for criminals to lurk in.
Keep light to a suitable level
Light should be no brighter than necessary for the task.
For unshielded coach style lights, the level should be a maximum of 500 lumens. For other lights with an operational or safety purpose, two lower power shielded down lights are better than poorly angled high power lights which simply create glare.
Choose the correct colour
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.
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.
The International Dark-Sky Association has more information on home lighting.
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