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The Brecon Beacons National Park celebrates its recent success at becoming one among only a handful of areas worldwide to be granted the status of an International Dark Sky Reserve.
Brecon Beacons Dark Skies

Photograph by Simon Powell

What do you see when you look up into the night sky? Stars? Darkness? Well, did you know that when you do, you’re enjoying some of the best views of stars, constellations and meteor showers in the world? In fact Brecon Beacons National Park has recently been named an International Dark Sky Reserve, only the fifth destination in the world to be granted such a prestigious status and the first in Wales.

The accreditation has been awarded by the International Dark-Sky Association, based in the USA, and the Brecon Beacons National Park now joins an elite group of areas in Canada, New Zealand, Namibia and the UK’s Exmoor National Park recognised as possessing an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and nocturnal environment, specifically protected for scientific, natural, educational, cultural, heritage or public enjoyment.

This news will represent a massive boost for local tourism, as astro-tourists, some of whom are already acquainted with the magic of the area, will be drawn here to take advantage of our wonderful glittering skies. Elsewhere in Britain, where night has gradually been lost to light pollution, fewer and fewer people are able to see the details of the night sky. The dark sky reserve in the Brecon Beacons National Park permits visitors to come and see what they have lost to light pollution in their own areas.

Orion - Photography by Simon Powell

Orion – Photography by Simon Powell

Sandie Dawe, Chief Executive of VisitBritain said, “Achieving international Dark Sky Reserve status means visitors to Wales can explore the Brecon Beacons with its lush green valleys, hidden waterfalls, fern-filled gorges and spectacular mountain ranges by day, before settling in to experience the magnitude of the Milky Way in pitch black surroundings at night. The announcement is yet another fantastic reason for guests from around the world to come and enjoy Britain’s great outdoors.”

The application to gain Dark Sky Reserve status began in 2011 when the Brecon Beacons Park Society and the National Park Authority set up collaboration with the University of Glamorgan, Dark Sky Wales and the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales in order to make a bid for the accreditation. The project was made possible thanks to generous funding from the Brecon Beacons Trust, Brecon Beacons National Park Authority’s Sustainable Development Fund and seed funding from the Brecon Beacon’s Park Society.  Julie James, Chairman of Brecon Beacons National Park Authority paid tribute to “our numerous partners for the hard work they have put in to make the dream of a dark sky reserve real.”

Locally raised author, Horatio Clare, who often cites the landscape of the Brecon Beacons as a source of inspiration, described the news aptly and lyrically, saying that, “The stars are mankind’s first and last navigation lights. They are nurseries and reserves of myth, poetry, literature and science: that the Brecon Beacons is one of the best places in the world to experience them is wonderful news.”

So, next time you gaze up at the night sky, be sure to appreciate the view because it really is one of the very best in the world.

Article by Hannah Hill. Photography by Simon Powell

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