Battlesteads Hotel & Observatory in Northumberland has become the first place in the UK to install a light-measuring photometer camera, as part of a Europe-wide initiative to tackle light pollution.
The eco-friendly hotel has joined the EU-funded "Stars4All" initiative, which has created a network of several hundred devices monitoring the quality of the night sky across Europe.
Specially-designed cameras have been built by astronomers and calibrated in the LICA lab at the Complutense University of Madrid, which will measure how dark the night skies are, how clear or cloudy it is, and what the ambient temperature is. Stars4All will use the information gathered to support a campaign to introduce a new European Sky Protection legislation.
Located on the edge of Northumberland National Park, Battlesteads is the only hotel in the UK with an on-site observatory and has been awarded Designated Dark Sky Discovery Site status, meaning it’s one of the best places in the country to see the stars. Battlesteads is the only place in the UK with a calibrated photometer, leading the country’s research into light pollution.
Roy Alexander FRAS, head astronomer at Battlesteads, said: "This is a fantastic research programme for us to be involved in and will give us really useful data about the dark skies in and around Wark. Light pollution is an ever-growing problem, especially in rural communities. It not only adversely affects nature and wildlife, but more and more research is emerging which suggests that it can contribute towards health problems in humans, by affecting our natural sleep cycles. The darker the skies become, the healthier we will get and the better it will be for wildlife and stargazers."
Part of the Northumberland Dark Sky Park, the largest protected area of night sky in Europe, Battlesteads Observatory offers stargazing experiences for astronomers of all abilities, from getting to know your telescope to aurora hunting and astrophotography.
Real-time data from Battlesteads photometer can be seen at the stars4all portal.