Exploring the Dark Side of Buriton

Posted on Fri, 24/02/2017 - 5:37pm

About 40 people met at the Five Bells on Friday 17th February before enjoying the wonders of the thousands of stars that can be seen from the village using powerful telescopes and binoculars on the Recreation Ground

As part of a wider 'Dark Skies Festival', experts from the South Downs National Park Authority were on hand to point out all the constellations in a perfectly clear night sky.

The National Park's 'Dark Skies' officer, Dan Oakley, explained how Buriton sits in a crucial location in the new 'International Dark Skies Reserve': one of only eleven such reserves in the whole world.

Less than 10% of the UK population can see the beauty of a natural night sky full of stars and the south-east of England is the worst area of all.

Light pollution is an increasing problem across the country. It threatens ecologically sensitive habitats and reduces star-gazing opportunities.

With nearly a third of vertebrates and 60% of invertebrates being nocturnal, several species depend on darkness for survival. High levels of light pollution cause them to become disorientated, resulting in decreased reproduction and reduced foraging for food.

As Dan explained, "this isn't just about star-gazing, it's about preserving the night-time environment for the benefit of all the animals, birds and insects that thrive at night."

"Even in the countryside, unnecessary, poorly-aimed and overly bright household security lights can affect the behaviour, mating and feeding patterns of bats, birds, moths and many other species."

Dan offered to come back to Buriton again and it is hoped that the Five Bells will also be able to host more events for villagers and friends organised by the nearby Hants Astro Group.

Details of the South DownsNational Park "Dark Skies Festival" can be found here:https://www.southdowns.gov.uk/enjoy/explore/dark-night-skies/