Dark Night Skies

Cranborne Chase National Landscape is an International Dark Sky Reserve

Cranborne Chase became the first National Landscape in the country to be designated in its entirety as an International Dark Sky Reserve in 2019.

Become a ‘Dark Sky Friendly’ Business

Why not apply for our dark sky friendly status?

The award is dependent on compliance with our Dark Night Sky Charter and businesses can promote their new status, while we all benefit from an improved night-time environment.

Complete our application form and we will be in touch with you to find out more:

In and around Cranborne Chase National Landscape International Dark Sky Reserve we are ideally located for astrotourism. It’s a globally growing phenomenon, which can bring substantial economic benefits to businesses.

If you want to convert your lighting to being dark sky friendly, or need advice on how best to do it, we can also help. We may be able to support you with a small amount of funding to assist with compliant fittings. The award is also available to community organisations, parishes, schools and individuals.

Please get in touch with Steve Tonkin for more details.

How you can help

If you’re looking for a quick guide to assess your home lighting and if it may need updating to make it dark sky compliant, use this helpful flowchart from the International Dark Sky Association:

Read our guides to Dark-Sky compliant lighting and lighting units with advice on which ones to choose:


Lighting Types, qualities and Impacts – Bob Mizon Commission for Dark Skies (CfDS) – March 2016

This paper by Bob Mizon looks at best practice relating to external lighting – Different types of lighting through the years, terminology guide, threats to the environment from blue-rich white lighting, putting light where it is needed, part-night switch-offs and common misconceptions met when discussing quality lighting and good practice…


Benefits of dark night skies

  • People: Our sleep can be disrupted by too much light at night. At worst, it can lead to more serious health issues
  • Wildlife: Many birds and animals are affected by stray light at night, affecting their breeding cycles and feeding habits. Controlling stray light helps bats, birds, moths and other nocturnal creatures to go about their business and thrive
  • Enjoyment and education: There is increasing interest, wonder and amazement at the incredible array of stars above us. Stargazing is a fabulous educational activity for all
  • Money: Substantial savings can be made by Local Authorities, businesses and individuals from turning off or dimming down unnecessary lighting
  • Saving energy: There is no point shining light into the sky. Energy wastage can be considerably reduced by ensuring light is directed only where it is needed
  • Rural tourism: Other areas designated for their dark skies have seen greater visitor numbers, even in winter, leading to increased business for B&Bs, retailers, and others catering for visitors
  • National Landscape: 50% of the National Landscape is above us! Dark night skies are definitely outstanding, natural and beautiful, and should be conserved and enhanced along with the rest of the National Landscape


International Dark Sky Reserve

Cranborne Chase National Landscape became the 14th Reserve across the globe in October 2019, and joins an exclusive club of International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Protected Areas to gain international recognition for its dark skies.

“Some people are lucky enough to recognise ‘the Plough’, but for others, seeing stars and their constellations is often impossible because of light pollution. Here in Cranborne Chase we can see the Milky Way and the Andromeda galaxy, if the clouds allow!” Linda Nunn, Director of Cranborne Chase National Landscape

The Reserve designation can only be given by the IDA to those areas that enjoy exceptional starry skies and have pledged to protect and improve them for future generations.

To achieve International Dark-Sky Reserve status, Cranborne Chase National Landscape was put through a series of stringent checks by the IDA.

Linda Nunn, continued: “We have taken meter readings of the darkness of the night sky for several years and we are hugely grateful to the Wessex Astronomical Society for their support. We must also thank Bob Mizon as we could not have achieved this without his help, or the support of the local authorities and parish councils and we look forward to working with them as we continue to improve our dark skies.

“Although huge amounts of work have already been done to achieve this status, we must continually improve our dark skies. Dark sky friendly schemes with schools, business, parishes and landowners are being developed and Wiltshire Council, which administers two-thirds of the area, has already agreed to upgrade its street lighting. This will make a significant contribution and will help us continually improve our dark sky quality. This is a requirement of the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) to ensure we maintain our exclusive status.”

Cranborne Chase National Landscape joins a prestigious group of areas around the world that are certified IDA International Dark-Sky Reserves:

Cranborne Chase is a unique International Dark Sky Reserve in the way it has had to draw together the lighting policies, practices and controls of its partner authorities and organisations.

Work has included auditing external light fittings within the National Landscape, consulting with the local planning authorities, and working with local communities and parishes to achieve non-polluting good lighting and providing training on reducing light pollution for everyone.

Our application to the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA)