Andrew Griffith joined a night walk on the South Downs near Bignor as part of this year’s Dark Skies Festival 2023. The Festival featured a host of events including nocturnal wildlife walks and stargazing parties.
In May 2016 the South Downs National Park became the world’s newest International Dark Sky Reserve. The walks are around some of the darkest locations in the park.
The festival walk was ably led by Richard and Kirstie Betts of the award-winning West Sussex firm Pied A Terre Adventures Limited who organise day and night adventures at www.patadventures.com.
Bignor Hill is a Dark Sky Discovery Site on the Slindon Estate - an officially recognised place for some of the best views of the star-filled skies. Unfortunately, the weather was not favourable for the anticipated views on the evening Andrew went.
Andrew Griffith co-founded the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Dark Skies in 2020 to protect the night sky against light pollution. The APPG consulted on dark sky preservation to identify threats and find actionable ways to prevent light pollution, including in planning policies. It attracted the attention of academics, national parks, astronomers, and engineers who provided input to a report of 10 Dark Sky policies for the government.
Andrew Griffith said:
“It was great to get out on the South Downs at night where (usually) we have some of the best views of the night skies. I recommend to anyone to try it. I am passionate about protecting our dark skies so that future generations may still be able to see the stars and the Milky Way - something that is already impossible in many parts of West Sussex.
“The extremely foggy evening meant that the only extra-terrestrial object we saw looming out of the darkness was an ITV camera crew!
- To read about the work of the APPG for dark Skies see https://appgdarkskies.co.uk/.
- To read about the South Downs National Park Dark Skies see https://www.southdowns.gov.uk/dark-night-skies/