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Warrumbungle National Park announced as first ‘dark sky’ park in Australia

Warrumbungle National Park announced as first ‘dark sky’ park in Australia
July 20, 2016

Warrumbungle National Park in Central Western NSW has been declared Australia’s first Dark Sky Park, recognising and protecting its key role in astronomical research.

NSW Planning Minister Rob Stokes and Environment Minister Mark Speakman welcomed the park’s new status, following confirmation from the International Dark Sky Association.

Minister Stokes said the park’s dark sky qualities will be protected with $100,000 in funding to control light pollution through implementation of updated planning policies. A new Dark Sky Planning Guideline has also been developed with the Australian Astronomical Observatory as part of the NSW Government’s review of state planning policies.

He advised “Warrumbungle National Park has long been recognised not only for its beauty at ground level, but also for the wonder it holds in the night sky above.

“It’s an outstanding place to view the night sky and, with the nearby Siding Spring Observatory, plays an important role in Australian astronomical research.

“As nearby communities grow, it’s important we plan to protect the park’s dark sky qualities from light pollution now and into the future.”

Minister Speakman said the Dark Sky Park’s status would benefit the environment as well as stargazers, adding “light pollution has a detrimental effect not only on professional and amateur astronomy, but it also impacts on those parts of the ecosystem, such as nocturnal animals, which are reliant on dark night skies.”

Australian Astronomical Observatory Head of Lighting and Environment Professor Fred Watson led the nomination for the Warrumbungle National Park to be Australia’s first Dark Sky Park.

Professor Watson stated “I am thrilled with the new Dark Sky status, which will give central western NSW the opportunity to educate and exemplify the benefits of dark skies and the use of sky-friendly lighting.”

Warrumbungle National Park joins other international parks such as Death Valley National Park in the United States and Galloway Forest Park in Scotland as officially designated Dark Sky Parks.

Image: Star trails across the night sky at Whitegum lookout, Warrumbungle National Park.

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