- Description of project including specific location and associated newspaper (100 words max)
Our project seeks international recognition for Ballycroy National Park & Wild Nephin to become a dark-sky park. The issue of human health, effects on wildlife and a general waste of valuable energy are important reasons to take light pollution seriously. By designating dark-sky places, we can raise awareness of light pollution and at the same time develop educational/science based programmes through related interests in Astronomy.
We plan to work with local communities on an environmentally friendly light management plan and encourage appreciation for our pristine night-time skies. This would be a niche attraction for Mayo and is a sustainable eco-tourism project with an environmental conscience.
- Rationale and objectives of project ( 100 words max)
How did the project originate?
The project began as a student dissertation research as part of a BA in Outdoor Education at GMIT Mayo entitled “Preservation of our Night-time skies” ; a study on the impact of light pollution and the potential for establishing a dark-sky park in county Mayo. The study established that Ballycroy National Park had strong potential to qualify as an official dark-sky place and this was not just of interest to astronomers. By building awareness of light pollution (a growing problem in economically successful countries), the West of Ireland can help to reduce wasted energy in excessive lighting, improve functional lighting where needed, reduce impact on wildlife and save costs.
- Phased plan of project
Please present this in bullet form style (6/7 bullet points should be sufficient)
April 2015 – GMIT Study was completed
June 2015 – Community steering group established “Friends of Mayo Dark Skies”
July 2015 – Establish project plan and key milestones for Application submission to International Dark-sky
August 2015 – Meteor Shower Watch evening
Sept 2015 –Gallery of Astro-photographs launched at Ballcroy Visitor Centre with Guest Speaker Secretary of Galway Astronomy Club on Aurora Borealis
November 2015 – Guest Speaker Prof. Brian Espey of Trinity College Dublin – What is Light Pollution & We should we care about it?
10 December – Collaboration with GMIT “Appreciation of the Night Skies in an Urban Setting”; student works themed on dark-skies at Lough Lannagh. Kayakers & Canoeists on a night time paddle with candle lit lanterns for a visual spectacle.
October – purchase of new equipment for measurement of Sky Quality of surrounding area.
October – December – Updated Sky quality measurements taken
November – First draft of Application submitted to the International dark-sky association (awaiting comment)
December/January – collate all data and submit application to International Dark-sky Association.
- Planned benefit of the project to the community and environs? (100 words max)
Sustainable local communities require the development of a low-impact on the environment and reduced resource use. Both of these topics can be addressed through the light pollution theme which will not only increase awareness, but also identify and quantify the dominant offenders, serve as a baseline for future work undertaken nationally and, hopefully, save council and private money through identifying areas where more efficient lighting installations or practices could be introduced.
There are also educational benefits in programmes that will be established as part of the project – astronomy encourages students in physics, maths, heritage and natural sciences.
- Who is or will be involved in the project (please give details of approximate numbers
The steering group includes 12 members from community groups in Ballycroy, Newport and Mulranny, also the Ballycroy National Park, Mayo county council, Mayo Development, local astronomers and physicians and project management team (ex GMIT students who developed the project initially). The number may grow /shrink as the project develops.
All acting in voluntary capacity.