Keep watching the skies – that’s the message from a small community group in Mylor Bridge which aims to raise awareness of light pollution. The Mylor & Flushing Dark Skies group sprang into life after a Climate Action Group series of meetings held in the parish back in 2020. The group managed one meeting before lockdown shut everything down, but started up anew once restrictions were limited.
The aim is simply to manage the lighting around the area to benefit wildlife and humans, presenting simple ways of reducing light pollution. And with the old yellow sodium lights in the parish recently replaced by new white LED lights, Mylor was the ideal place to raise awareness of the issues.
Group action began with investigating potential Dark Skies Discovery sites. This campaign encourages people to find local sites where they can enjoy stargazing. To qualify a site needs to be away from direct streetlighting, with good sightlines (not blocked by buildings or trees) and safe, level access.
It’s also started a Dark Skies Champions scheme, with two local businesses – the Village Stores and the Post Office – being the first to receive certificates for being aware of light pollution and taking steps to reduce it.
Each business had to complete a survey form showing awareness of the issues and the measures they’ve taken to reduce their `light’ footprint. These included turning lights off when not needed, making sure lights are shielded to avoid light being cast in all directions, and replacing bright white LEDs with warmer colours.
Now Mylor Dark Skies has plans to reach out into the community. A recent Brownies activity ran very successfully, featuring the folk stories behind some of the constellations and a star activity, using a template to prick out a constellation then project that onto a wall by shining a torch through the holes.
The local primary school is also keen to get involved, and the group is hoping to extend the Dark Skies Champion scheme to individual households.
‘The aim of Dark Skies is simply to get people thinking about light and how it affects people and wildlife, and also to get them to appreciate how wonderful the dark night sky is, and why we need to protect it.’ Andrew Marston, Dark Skies member.