St Agnes receives dark sky status
STAR-gazers and local businesses are celebrating after a site in St Agnes is granted the prestigious dark sky status.
St Agnes Head is one of 26 sites across the country to be given dark sky status by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) this month.
The accreditation, which is part of STFC’s Dark Sky Discovery Programme, is given to sites accessible and free enough from light pollution to offer a clear view of the night sky.
Positioned far enough away from the village and surrounded by cliff grass and shrubs, St Agnes Head provides the perfect place for star-gazers of all abilities to go and spot the Milky Way.
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Bill Makin, head ranger for the National Trust in St Agnes, said: “A lot of local people know St Agnes Head is a great place to go. It’s got great scenery and panoramic views. You’re away from any lights or light pollution and you can see for miles left and right.
"There is lots of sky to look at and it has got good car parking access. You can’t find a better place for star gazing – I thoroughly recommend it.”
St Agnes Head was nominated for the award by the National Trust, who received confirmation of it’s success during BBC Two’s Stargazing Live series.
Mr Makin added: “Our aim is to get people out and enjoying the countryside in as many ways as possible.
“A lot more people are becoming interested in star gazing and it’s great that people can go out and find places that are great for it.”
The Cornwall Astronomy Society, which boasts dozens of members from across the county, has expressed its support of the accreditation.
Preston Connor, a member of the Cornwall Astronomy Society, said: “It’s great to be able to have more dark sky areas here in Cornwall
“St Agnes Head is an excellent place for star gazing, it’s really lovely.”
Members of the society have visited St Agnes Head on several group viewing trips, and, in the past year have seen comets, Orion’s nebula and tracked the moons of Jupiter from the site.
Mr Connor added: “The best time to go out is when we’ve had rain the night before as it clears all the dust – that’s when the sky is at its best.”
Local businesses and wider community groups are also hoping to benefit from the new status and the high profile star-gazing has at the moment.
Jane Sawle, a partner at Beacon Cottage Farm Holidays, said: “I think that the status could increase business. I think people tend to come here for natural things and Chapel Porth beach and the sky ties in to that.
“People have mentioned on reviews about being able to see the night sky and how nice the sunsets are.”
Although the National Trust is encouraging star-gazing in Cornwall, it has reminded star-lovers to dress appropriately and not venture near the cliff edge while looking at the sky.
Carnewas and Bedruthan Steps, in Saint Eval near Wadebridge was also awarded dark sky status this month.