International Dark Sky Week: What We Should Be Seeing


6th-11th April 2013 sees International Dark Sky Week going global to raise awareness of light pollution

Dark Sky Week was created in 2003 by Jennifer Barlow, a Virginian high-school student, with a cause to celebrate the sky without light pollution and raise awareness of the issue, especially how low-quality lighting affects visibility. It has since grown to be an international event, with official endorsements from important Astronomical organisations such as the International Dark-Sky Association and the American Astronomical Society.

It’s held during the new moon week every April, and encourages people to turn off their lights at night, enabling them to see how beautiful the sky can be when millions of lights aren’t turned on.

New York without light pollution, by photographer Thierry Cohen
New York City without light pollution, by photographer Thierry Cohen

Light pollution is a huge and every-growing problem in the world. It not only means we can’t see the natural beauty of the sky without having to go into a middle of desert, but it can also cause health problems in humans.

So, turn your lights off! Not only will you be participating in this great week, but you’ll saving on your electricity bill, which I know as a student is something to be very conscious of

The University of Southampton, aside from having a great Physics and Astronomy department, has a good history of appreciating the stars. Indeed, this January the department once again played host to BBC Stargazing Live at the Southampton Astrodome, a brilliant multi-event which was totally free!

For more information on where you can see a clear sky in the Southampton area, contact the department, the Astrodome, or International Dark Sky Week themselves (details of which are below). Personally, I would say the New Forest is probably the best local place for good star-spotting, easy to reach on the train if you’re willing to venture there at night.

For more information on International Dark Sky Week, check out the Facebook and Twitter pages, click here for the website, or email



History student with Mandarin on the side. Spent a year in China and a semester in Spain, plan to go back to China again after graduation. Opinion Editor at the Wessex Scene for two years.

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