“Dark Skies For All” Ireland is a CIT Blackrock Castle Observatory-led project supported by a special award from the International Astronomical Union (IAU) as part of their centenary celebrations. The Dark Skies for All project aims to raise awareness of the preservation of quiet and dark skies. Astronomy represents a rich and significant aspect of cultural and natural heritage and the project will stress the importance of preserving it and passing it onto future generations.
CIT Blackrock Castle Observatory (BCO) officially launched the project during our annual Earth Hour celebrations. As recipients of this award BCO and Dark Sky Ireland partners are affirming their commitment to championing Ireland’s Dark Sky Heritage, starting with the announcement of a 6 Week programme of Dark Sky Ireland activity in Cork, launched by the Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr. Mick Finn.
Centre Manager Clair McSweeney is honoured that BCO’s role as National Outreach Coordinators for the IAU includes an undertaking to champion Ireland’s Dark Sky Heritage: “We are especially proud to be awarded funding for an IAU 100 Special Project that will allow us to promote and celebrate Ireland’s rich Dark Sky Heritage. It has been our great privilege to use astronomy to empower communities throughout Ireland since our inception, and we are thrilled to have an opportunity to scale-up that mission during this globally significant anniversary”.
Ireland is home to some of the clearest night skies in the world thanks to our relatively low levels of light pollution. The quality of this natural resource is globally recognised, with Kerry being home to the only Gold Tier Dark Sky Reserve in the Northern Hemisphere. This resource is of incredible importance to the quality of Ireland’s astronomy research, astro-tourism, and human/animal health.
The Dark Skies For All project, and the associated 6 week program of events, seek to raise awareness for the preservation of dark skies and to claim the right for future generations to continue to access this integral part of our natural heritage.
The program of events will include activity for Dark Sky Week (March 31st to April 7th ), Dark Sky workshops during Tech Week, and an EcCoWell event on May 13th entitled ‘Bright Planning for the Urban Environment, The Dark Side of Illumination’. This EcCoWell event will see Dark Sky Ireland partners informing local government planners, lighting engineers, architects and the wider public about the many dangers of light pollution and how we can all address this issue.
CIT Blackrock Castle Observatory is the Irish National Outreach Coordinator for the International Astronomical Union’s 100th year celebrations (IAU100). Along with partners at the Cork Sky Friendly Campaign, Mayo Dark Sky Park, Trinity College Dublin, Kerry Dark Sky Reserve and other Dark Sky Ireland partners across the island of Ireland, BCO coordinates Dark Sky Ireland. For further information on Ireland’s Dark Sky heritage, see Dark Sky Ireland.