How to choose lighting for a dark skies reserve

dark sky reserve lighting

Written by Guy Walton - 9 Jun 2023

A national park or outdoor space with Dark Sky Reserve status offers exceptional starry nights and is specifically protected from artificial lighting. When choosing lighting for your Dark Sky Reserve, the goal is to minimise light pollution and preserve the natural darkness of the night sky. Efficient and environmentally sensitive lighting benefits wildlife and wellbeing, saves energy and enhances our view of the incredible night sky.

Tips for choosing the right lighting for dark skies reserve

To help control the spread of light pollution and to assist you in choosing the right lighting, here are a few useful tips to make your outdoor lighting Dark Sky friendly:

Understand dark skies requirements

Before installing outdoor lighting, consider the purpose of the light and what its impact will be on the surrounding area, including wildlife and neighbours. Familiarise yourself with any specific guidelines and regulations from the organisation responsible for managing the dark skies reserve. Different reserves may have different criteria and recommendations for lighting.

Light only where needed 

Use direct light only where it is needed. Consider pointing your floodlights downwards or change to specially designed downlights to reduce wasted stray or upward light that can cause nuisance to others. Select lighting fixtures that have a shield or hood that directs light downward, minimising light spillage into the sky. This helps to focus the light where it’s needed and prevents unnecessary light pollution. Our range of lighting bollards are the perfect solution for discreet and atmospheric lighting for a Dark Sky Reserve.

Light only when needed

It is rare that lighting needs to be permanently on. It’s important to choose lights with timers and/or motion detectors to ensure light is dimmed when possible and off when not needed.  Our solar lighting bollards are ideal for outdoor lighting as they can be configured for 10% illumination when switched on and maximum illumination when motion is detected. This is also a safety precaution as the sensors will detect any intruders.

Light at a suitable level

When choosing Dark Sky friendly lighting, opt for fixtures that have lower brightness or intensity levels and avoid obtrusive light or bright bulbs that emit excessive light. Our Bosco solar light seems to vanish during the day, but comes to life in the dark. The solar version has a PV panel in combination with state of the art built-in control electronics and energy storage. The solar energy is stored and released to the LED module as efficiently as possible.

Choose the correct colour

Short wavelength (cool blue) light produces more sky glow and is most harmful to wildlife and human health. Avoid high-intensity floodlights or bright bulbs that emit excessive light. Look for lighting solutions with a warmer colour temperature (around 2700k-3000K) rather than cooler temperatures, as they create a more natural and less intrusive ambiance. Our bollard lighting has various colour options including 2200, 2700, 4000 and Amber which is bat-friendly. 

The safety aspect of avoiding light pollution

  • Reduced glare – Glare from bright, unshielded lights can make it difficult to see at night, which can lead to accidents. In a dark skies reserve, there is less glare, so it is easier to see what is around you.
  • Improved visibility – When there is less light pollution, the stars and planets are easier to see. This can also help people to orient themselves and to see potential hazards, such as cliffs or other obstacles.
  • Increased wildlife – Dark skies reserves are often home to a variety of wildlife that are sensitive to light. By reducing harsh lighting, we can help to protect these animals and their habitats.

In addition to these safety benefits, avoiding light intrusion also has a number of other benefits. Dark Sky Reserves use less energy because they don’t need as much artificial light, leading to reduced energy consumption. There’s also improved air quality as light pollution can contribute to air pollution by scattering pollutants into the atmosphere. Dark Sky Reserves are ideal for stargazing and other astronomy activities and by reducing lighting levels, you can help to preserve our night sky and to make it easier for people to enjoy the beauty of the stars.

If you’re looking for the perfect Dark Sky friendly lighting, get in touch to find out more about our range of wired and solar bollard lighting.



Written by Guy Walton - 9 Jun 2023

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