Cornwall Council is starting work with the Caradon Observatory to prepare an application for an international 'Dark Sky' Designation over Bodmin Moor.

Bodmin Moor is one of the few large areas of landscape in the UK which is so clear of light pollution that it meets the highest standards required for designation by the International Dark Skies Association. The Council is keen to keep it that way. If the application is successful, Bodmin Moor would be one of only five designated Dark Sky sites in the UK and one of only 24 sites world wide.

The designation will help safeguard the dark skies to enable people to continue to enjoy clear views, weather permitting, of the stars at night. It will also be good for Cornwall’s nocturnal wildlife.

It is hoped this would boost tourism and provide an important educational resource as the Observatory is the only one of its kind sanctioned by the exam board Edexel to provide images of celestial objects for GCSE astronomy.

Members at this week’s meeting of the Environment, Heritage and Planning Portfolio Advisory Committee voted unanimously to prepare the bid which is expected to formally submitted in the summer of 2015. Being awarded Dark Sky Designation will not mean turning all the lights off on the Moor, however. Instead the Council will prepare a strategy to keep light pollution to a minimum.

Edwina Hannaford, the Council’s Portfolio Holder for Environment, Heritage and Planning, said “I am delighted to endorse this bid. The night sky seems to be a fading asset as light pollution spreads and it would be fantastic to safeguard an area in Cornwall’s sky for the unspoilt nightly spectacle of stars and galaxies for our residents and visitors.

“I am very grateful to the volunteers at the Observatory who are offering a great deal of technical advice and support for the bid.”

Dr Wayne Thomas, from the Caradon Observatory said "For Millennia our ancestors have looked up at the night sky in awe and wonder and thought about their place in the universe. We have a unique opportunity to help preserve our night skies for future generations. We are delighted to be working with Cornwall Council towards this aim. Cornwall still has some of the darkest skies in England, and it would be wonderful to help preserve the visibility of a true wonder of the universe from our historic Bodmin Moor."