One man’s dark ambition
Saturday 3rd November 2012, 10:00AM GMT.
ALDERNEY is bidding for a place on the astronomers’ map.
Ken Hampton, director of the Sustainable Alderney Association, has spent a year collating evidence to have the island designated an International Dark Skies Reserve.
He has sent photos of the darkest points of the island’s night sky to the International Dark Skies Association in Phoenix, Arizona.
The island core ‘dark skies area’ would be on the Giffoine, because of its remoteness from any street lights. It’s also States land and, as green belt, is protected from development.
The only artificial light by which it is affected is one at the airport. That, he said, could be turned downwards.
‘We have at least as good dark skies as Sark and we’re not light polluted from either Jersey or Guernsey, which Sark kind of is,’ said Mr Hampton. ‘We’ve just got some slight advantages over them here. And it’s States land and green belt so it will never be developed, meaning it is ideal for something like this.’
When a new area is given Dark Skies status it goes on astronomy websites all over the world.
Mr Hampton, pictured, added: ‘The immediate benefit will be increased tourism because all of the websites around the world that are astronomy-related.
‘All of a sudden Alderney would get listed as a dark sky reserve, so that will bring astronomers here. The longer term will be more educational opportunities for young people. They will actually learn some things about science and that’s an awful lot of what sustainable Alderney is all about, trying to bring some of those kinds of long-term benefits.’
Mr Hampton decided to go it alone in applying for the designation independently of the States.
He said: ‘Two years ago, Sark was given Dark Skies status and that was all over the news. Immediately I thought, why not Alderney? Why don’t we just do it?
‘I got looking around and nobody was even looking into it, so about a year ago I thought heck, I’ll do it myself. So I did a bunch of
research and was making contacts and it finally culminated in putting in an application – and so here we are.’
He hopes to have a reply in a couple of months and anticipates a visit from a Dark Skies official from the UK or the Continent.