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Highlighting Cork’s darkened skies

Thursday, 16th April, 2020 10:55am

With our current isolation, we are probably all a bit more aware of our surrounding environment and next Sunday sees the beginning of International Dark Sky Week, a worldwide event hosted to celebrate the night and bring attention to the problems caused by light pollution.

This year’s celebrations run until Sunday 26 April.

CIT Blackrock Castle Observatory (BCO) and Cork Sky Friendly are part of the Dark Sky Ireland community celebrating Dark Sky Week 2020.

BCO say Dark Sky Week is a time to reflect on our night sky as an intrinsic part of our shared cultural heritage, and what steps we can take to ensure this beautiful resource is protected.

Due to to our low levels of light pollution, Ireland is home to some of the clearest night skies in the world. 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 Ireland’s astronomy research, astro-tourism, and human/animal health, BCO say.

Dr Brian Espey, Associate Professor in Astrophysics at Trinity College Dublin said: “Reducing light pollution makes sense for the environment, improves our own health, and also makes a positive difference in our own pockets - overall it'll cost us not to make a change. In Ireland 45 per cent of the population cannot see the Milky Way at all, and over 18 per cent of the population see skies so bright that they use daytime (colour) vision at night.”

The Dark Sky Week activities build on the work undertaken during last year’s Dark Skies for All project. As part of the 2020 global celebrations, BCO are compiling a suite of remote activities.

Some of the activities include a live dialogue with space expert Dr Niall Smith about satellites and their growing increase in the skies. BCO will deliver tutorials on how to participate in the Globe at Night citizen science project which measure light pollution.

Experts from the award-winning science centre will also deliver a live event celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Hubble Telescope on 24 April. All this plus fun, educational Spaceweek and European Space Education Resource Office (ESERO) resources for parents and teachers are available on the BCO website.

BCO will release new material every weekday during International Dark Sky Week. Check out the schedule at www.bco.ie/events/dark-sky-week/.

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