Hotel joins initiative to tackle light pollution

A blanket of stars over Battlesteads. Picture by Martin Kitching
A blanket of stars over Battlesteads. Picture by Martin Kitching

A Northumberland hotel is leading the way in an initiative to tackle light pollution.

Battlesteads Hotel and Observatory has become the first place in the UK to install a light-measuring photometer camera, as part of a Europe-wide project.

The Wark hotel has joined the EU-funded Stars4All initiative, which has created a network of several hundred devices monitoring the quality of the night sky across Europe.

The specially-designed cameras, built by astronomers, will measure how dark the night skies are, how clear or cloudy it is, and what the ambient temperature is. Stars4All will use the information gathered to support a campaign to introduce a new European Sky Protection legislation.

Roy Alexander, head astronomer at Battlesteads, said: “This is a fantastic research programme for us to be involved in. Light pollution is an ever-growing problem, especially in rural communities. It not only adversely affects nature and wildlife, but more and more research is emerging which suggests that it can contribute towards health problems in humans, by affecting our natural sleep cycles.”

Battlesteads is the only hotel in the UK with an on-site observatory and has been awarded Designated Dark Sky Discovery Site status, meaning it’s one of the best places in the country to see the stars.

Real-time data from Battlesteads photometer can be viewed online at http://tess.dashboards.stars4all.eu/d/datasheet_stars241/stars241?orgId=1